Sri Aurobindo Ghosh and his Philosophy on Education

Sri Aurobindo Ghosh and his Philosophy on Education

Sri Aurobindo Ghosh, occupies a very important position among the contemporary Indian philosophers of education due to his wide knowledge of East and West, ancient and modern system of education. He has presented an integral philosophy of education through his 'ashram' at Pondicherry. Here, experiments are conducted to evolve a new system of education which may be adopted for the reconstruction of Indian education. 

He considers the fulfillment of swadharma as the law of life and wants that every individual in a nation should fulfill his swadharma. Hence, the purpose of education is to prepare the individual to serve their nation and humanity. His education philosophy in the field of modern educaton is very important. 

Life of Sri Aurobindo Ghosh
Sri Aurobindo Ghosh, a famous sage, poet, patriot, philosopher and an educationist, is known by the name Aurobindo, was born on August 15, 1872 in Kolkata. 
The word 'Aurobindo' means 'Lotus' in sanskrit. His father Dr. Krishan Dhan Ghosh loved the Western culture and he wanted his son to grow up into a fake Englishman. So, Aurobindo was sent to England at the age of seven and he lived there for 14 years. He got education in London and Cambridge, and he became a master in English, Greek and Latin. 
He passed the Indian Civil Service Examination in 1890 but he could not appear for the horse-riding test. As a result, he was disqualified for the job and he returned to India in 1893. Aurobindo studied sanskrit language and literature in India and served as an adviser and sometimes as secretary to the Maharaja for fourteen years in the princely state of Baroda. He became a professor of English at Baroda College. He learnt Bengali, Gujarati and Marathi, and delve deeply in the culture and philosophy of India. He practiced yoga in 1904. 

As per the instruction of the Indian National Congress, he became the Principal of Bengal National College (now Jadavpur University) at Kolkata. After the Bengal Partition (1905), Aurobindo resigned from his job and became an active freedom fighter. He launched the journals Vande Matram, Karma Yogi, Dharm and the Bengali daily Yugantar to propagate his revolutionary ideas and arouse intense feelings of nationalism among the people of India. His political and nationalistic sentiments were expressed through his writings and fiery speeches. The British Government arrested Aurobindo and put him in Alipore Jail for a year in connection with the Alipore Bomb Case in 1908. 

When he was in jail, he spent most of his time in yoga, meditation and the study of the Gita, philosophy and spiritual literature. Once he was in Alipore jail, he realised the presence of God in a dream. After his release from the prison, he shunned all his political activities immediately and returned to Pondicherry for penance and spiritual advancement. 

He spent his retired life at his ashram in Pondicherry. He became a yogi and devoted his time to yoga and meditation. He preached his philosophy of dharma, education, spiritual advancement and brahmacharya across the country. He had set up an international ashram and International Centre of Education at Pondicherry and started several educational and social activities. He established Auroville as a city of universal culture for international cooperation and human unity. Aurobindo propounded his major philosophy and published it in Arya a new journal in English from 1914 to 1921. Aurobindo, the great saint, passed away on December 5, 1950. His demise put an end to a glorious chapter in the spiritual history of India. 

Aurobindo's General Philosophy of Life
Sri Aurobindo's philosophy of life is based on an experienced integralism. It is a synthesis of idealism, realism, naturalism and pragmatism. His life began with psychic experiences connected with his political, philosophical and poetic life. The general philosophical ideas of Aurobindo are found mostly in his weekly newspaper "karma yoga". 

Corner stone of Indian thought: 
Jnana (knowledge), Bhakti (devotion) and Karma (work ethics) are the three cornerstones upon which the Indian philosophy of life has been built. Those who resort to Jnana, Bhakti and Karma can walk on the divine path. 

Aurobindo stood against the exclusive emphasis on them. He did not want to deprive the individual of the variety of life. He believed any such emphasis resulted in the lopsided development of a personality. He felt that there should be a combination of India's genius consisting of spirituality, creativeness and intellectuality. Spirituality is indeed the master key of the Indian mind, the sense of the infinite is native to it. The first age of India's greatness was a spiritual age when she sought passionately for the truth of existence through the intuitive mind and through an inner experience and interpretation of both the psychic and the physical existence. 

Aurobindo had a great faith in the creativeness of India. "For three thousand years at least ... India has been creating abundantly, incessantly and lavishly with an inexhaustible many sidedness republics and kingdoms and empires; philosophies and cosmogonies and sciences; creeds, arts and poems... systems of yoga, arts spiritual, arts worldly,... the list is endless and in each item there is about a plethora of activity". The third pillar of India's genius is its strong intellectuality. 

In the words of Aurobindo, "the greatness of Indian culture depends on its strong intellectuality. It is at once austere and rich, robust and minute, powerful and delicate, massive in principle and curious in detail. 

Integral approach to Indian thought: 
Aurobindo wanted to discover integration in Indian thoughts. He also wanted to see life as a whole. As he wanted to strike a balance between the multicoloured shades of life, he turned to the Gita. He says that there is a fellowship between God and man. The fellowship with God can be achieved by disinterested action (Nishkan Karma) in society, never-ending meditation, self-forgetting devotion and feeling a kind of unity of all things in God. 

Synthesis and understanding: 
The basic principle of Aurobindo's philosophy of life is the synthesis and understanding of life and the universe. He believed that the Gita preserves a proper balance in the world of knowledge, devotion and work. In the words of Aurobindo, "He in whom all three meet and become one entirety". He is the supreme being, the Purushothama". Swami Sivananda says, "Aurobindo is the consummate expression of the Indian spirit of synthesis". 

Unity of truth:
Aurobindo arrived at the concept of the basic unity of truth by synthesising the views in Indian thoughts. He observes, "First of all, there is undoubtedly a truth, one and eternal, which we are seeking, from which all other truth derives, by the light of which all other Truth finds its rightful place in the total scheme of knowledge". 

This is the keyword of Aurobindo's philosophy. He believes that the mind of man is imperfect and is not in a position to understand the integral truth. Only the supermind can have an understanding of the integral truth. Aurobindo remarks, "Man will become a super mind. Super mind will have a super mental consciousness. Consciousness of Sat-Chit-Anand: Truth, Self, Bliss: Truth, Beauty, Goodness". 

Man becomes a superman when he attains a supermind. He surrenders himself completely to the will of God and becomes a superman. Aurobindo aimed at the integral man. The superman is the integral Man, the ideal man who makes an ideal society. 

Puma Yoga: 
Aurobindo thought that there is a wide gulf between the ordinary mind and the super mind. He tried to integrate them into a single whole through purna yoga He believed that purna yoga helps man to realise the supreme, the Purushothama. According to him, "All life is "Yoga". In the words of Aurobindo "The very first lesson in this yoga is to face life and its trials with a quiet mind, a firm courage and an entire reliance on the Divine Shakti". According to Aurobindo, "An unconditional surrender to God is the first step of Yoga". In fact, Aurobindo's yoga aims at the creation of divinity in the whole man. The education of the mind is stressed in order to achieve the aim of yoga.

Types of Yoga

Aurobindo was of the opinion that life is universal and it is imperishable. According to him, "Life is a form of cosmic energy, a dynamic movement or current of it, positive or negative, a constant act or play of the force which builds up forms, energises them by an unceasing process of disintegration and renewal of their substances". 

Aurobindo had a deep faith in the philosophy of rebirth. According to him, birth and death are a predetermined process in the scheme of evolution. In the words of Aurobindo, "All the secrets of circumstances of rebirth center around the capital need of the soul, the need of growth, the need of experience, that governs the line of its evolution and all the rest is accessory". 

Law of karma: 
Aurobindo believed that man is the maker of his own fate. But the heredity and environment are determined by the present and past actions of man. He found continuity between different births. In this way he believed the doctrine of karma. However, karma does not determine the fate of soul. 

Evolution of man: 
Aurobindo was of the opinion that the individual is in the continuous process of evolution to attain the union of the individual soul with the supreme soul. According to him, "Life is not for life alone, but for God. There is an inner law and meaning for all things depending on the supreme". This is the inner law, which guides, regulates and controls the universe, and propels it into action. 

Experienced integration: 
Aurobindo's philosophy is the result of his concept of "experienced integration". It is an integral approach to solve various problems of human life. It is a synthesis of the idealism, realism, naturalism and pragmatism of the East and the West and of the old and the new. 

Aurobindo was a spiritualist. He regretted the neglect of spiritual elements, which is responsible for the decay of human societies. He says, "The radical defect of all civilization has been the neglect of the spiritual elements". 

Aurobindo's Philosophy of Education
Aurobindo Ghosh is a true yogi, a great philosopher and an eminent educationist. He starts his life as a political thinker but very soon he becomes a spiritual integralist. He shows mankind the way to the highest spiritual growth. His philosophy of education directly emerges from his philosophy of life based on spiritual penance, practice of yoga and brahmacharya. He believes that any education, which involves all the three factors, will definitely develop man to the fullest extent. The journey of his life is a unique experience in harmonising the two important ends of existence, that is, spirit and matter. He tries to translate these ideals into a system of education through his Pondicherry ashram school now grown into Auroville-a city of universal culture. According to Aurobindo, real education is that which provides a free and creative, environment to the child by developing his interests, creativity, mental, moral and aesthetic senses. Finally, they lead to the development of his spiritual powers. 

(1) Study of mind: 
The true basis of education is the study of mind. Any system of education that ignores the study of mind hampers the intellectual growth. Therefore, the study of human mind is basic to education. The human mind consists of four layers, namely, chitta, manas, buddhi, and intuition. Chitta is the store house of memory. This passive memory is automatic and needs no training. The active memory requires training and improvement. Manas or the power of mind is the second layer of the mind. It is regarded as the sixth sense. Intellect or buddhi is the third layer of mind and works at the higher level. 

There are two kinds of intellect that is right hand mind and left hand mind. Right hand mind judges, images, memories, observe commands and manipulates. Left hand mind is the source of analytical faculties-distinguish, compare, classify, generalise, deduce, infer and conclude. Intuition is the fourth layer of mind having a "direct vision of knowledge". "It brings to man those brilliant messages from the unknown, which are the beginning of his higher knowledge". Therefore, an ideal teacher should try to develop this intuitive power in the people. 

(2) Focal points: 
Aurobindo considers the man, the nation or people and the universal humanity as the three focal points. True education should take them into account. 

(3) Development of spirit: 
Aurobindo advocates the national system of education on a spiritual basis. True education will be "an instrument for this real spirit in the mind and body of the individual and the nation". 

(4) Development of real man: 
The important business of education is to bring out the real man. Therefore, education should aim at the development of all the faculties of the child to make him a real man. It can be done by promoting the powers of observation, memory, reasoning etc. 

(5) Education according to child's nature: 
Aurobindo believes that education must be provided to the child according to his mental aptitudes and psychological needs. He wants and advocates child-centred education. 

(6) Freedom for child: 
Aurobindo wants education to be child-centred. He, therefore, advocates perfect liberty for the child. This is because he believes that the child can acquire the best knowledge if his mind is trained in a free atmosphere without any hindrance. He also advises that hard things should not be brought into the child's experience. 

(7) Development of consciousness: 
Education should foster consciousness in the students by bringing out or developing the latent powers of the child. 

(8) Brahmacharya: 
Aurobindo lays great stress on brahmacharya. In fact, he wants brahmacharya to be the main foundation of education. 

(9) Physical purification: 
Aurobindo bestows great importance on moral education for physical purification. He wants the child to habituate himself to the right emotions, the noblest associations, the best mental, emotional and physical habits through moral education. The teacher should impart the moral training to the students by his personal example, daily conversation and extensive reading of good books. 

(10) Religious education: 
Aurobindo is of the opinion that without religious overtones in education there will be corruption and anarchy in the country. He believes that the essence of religious education is to prepare the student to live for God, for humanity, for country, for others and for himself. 

(11) Training of senses: 
Like Western philosophers Rousseau, Pestolazzi and Froebel, Aurobindo believes that the senses are the gateways of knowledge. So, the senses of the child should be trained in a proper manner. Such training helps the child to grasp the soul of education. 

(12) Subjects of education: 
Aurobindo is in favour of child-centred education. Therefore, he recommends those subjects which are of interest to the students and are related to their lives. 

(13) Emphasis on mother tongue: 
Aurobindo wants mother tongue as the medium of all instruction. He believes that the child could learn better if the education is imparted to him through the medium of his mother tongue. 

Basic Principles of Aurobindo's Education
1.Education should be child-centred. 
2.There should be perfect liberty for the child. 
3.Education should be related to the life of the child. 
4.Education should be according to the mental aptitudes and psychological needs of the child. 
5.Education should be imparted through the medium of mother tongue. 
6.Education should bring out the latent powers of the child. 
7.Education should help to achieve the physical purification of the child. 
8.Education should develop consciousness. 
9.Education should train the senses of the child. 
10.The basic foundation of education should be brahmacharya. 
11.Education should develop the soul substance of an individual. 
12.Education should develop all faculties of the child in order to make him a complete man. 
13.Religious education should be a part of education to prevent corruption in the country. 

Meaning of Education
Aurobindo Ghosh comes out against the educational system of his time. He believes that education should be according to the mental and spiritual needs of the children and the demands of the country. It means that education should lie in accordance with the changing and growing needs of our real as well as modern life. Thus, education should create dynamic citizens so that they may be able to face the present challenges and meet the needs of the modern complex life with ease. In the words of Sri Aurobindo, "Education to be true must not be a machine made fabric but a true building or living evocation of the powers of the mind and spirit of human being". According to Aurobindo, "Education is helping the growing soul to draw out that is in itself". In other words, education should bring out the latent powers of child to make him a complete man. N.C.Dowsett has summerised Sri Aurobindo Ghosh's philosophy of education thus, "the meaning of the word education is to bring forth the inner, hidden, latent, dormant, potential secret within every human being, secret because, it is not of senses but of the inner truth of being and because it is that most unknown pan of the being which has yet to evolve to its full stature". 

Aim of Education

(a) Acquire knowledge: 
The aim of education is helping the child to acquire knowledge. According to Aurobindo, knowledge should be the latest and related to the different fields such as literature, culture, science, politics etc. 

(b) Physical purity: 
Physical purity and development of the child is the main aim of education. This is because it is the body which should perform all religious obligations. Aurobindo insists that without physical purity and development, spiritual development is not possible. In fact, physical purity and development are the two bases upon which the edifice of spiritual development is built. 

(c) Training of senses: 
The aim of education is to train all the senses namely, hearing, speaking, listening, touching, smelling and tasting. As senses are the important sources of knowledge, they should be trained properly so that nerve, chitta and manas become pure. Education is the only process through which the senses of the child can be trained to the fullest extent in order to acquire more knowledge. 

(d) Develop logical faculty: 
Aurobindo believes that logical faculty plays a very significant role in the education of the child. He has mentioned three steps for the training and development of the logical faculty, that is, drawing inferences, making success and failures and causes of success and failures. The first step of logical faculty involves the encouragement of the child to draw inferences from the facts and enable him to trace the causes and effects, which lead to the drawing of inferences. The second step of logical faculty is to enable the child to mark success and failures. This enables him to draw inferences in a logical manner. The third step is to enable the child to notice the causes of success and failure of a particular experiment. 

(e) Mental development: 
Mental development means the development of all mental faculties such as memory, thinking, reasoning, imagination, discrimination, special relationship and generalisation. The aim of education is to develop these faculties harmoniously. 

(f) Development of morality: 
Moral and emotional development are the essentials needed for the child to foster the right attitude in him. In the absence of these developments, mental development will become harmful to human progress. Aurobindo, therefore, emphasises the fact that the hearts of children should be trained and developed through education to show extreme love, sympathy and consideration for all living beings. The teachers should be a role model for the child to develop morality. 

(g) Development of conscience: 
Aurobindo has remarked four levels of conscience-chitta, manas, intelligence and intuition. The duty of the teacher is to help the child in the development of all these levels of conscience harmoniously. 

(h) Spiritual development: 
Aurobindo believes that every human being has some element of divinity in him. The teacher should bring it out, then nourish it through yoga exercises and brahmacharya. According to Aurobindo, "The chief aim of education should be to help the growing soul to draw out that in itself which is best and make it perfect for a noble use". 

(i) Self-realisation
Aurobindo believes firmly that self-realisation should be the aim of education. In fact, self-realisation enables the individual to realise his real being. Therefore, this is the ultimate meaning of life on the earth. 

(j) Development of potentialities: 
Aurobindo believes that every child has some latent physical, mental and spiritual potentialities. Hence, he considers the development of such hidden potentialities as one of the aims of education. Here, the task of the teacher is to draw out these potentialities in a harmonious way and turn the child into a complete man or real man, i.e., superman. 

Aurobindo suggests all those subjects and activities, which the students are interested in. The subjects and activities included in the curriculum should possess creativity and educational expression. Thus, the curriculum is constructed in such a way as to develop the inner potential of the child and turn him into a super human being. Aurobindo has prescribed the following five principles of curriculum construction. 

1.Curriculum should be interesting for the child. 

2.Curriculum should include all subjects and activities which promote mental and spiritual development of the child. 

3.The subjects of a curriculum should be able to motivate the child to learn. 

4.Curriculum should activate the creative potentialities of the child in order to develop him into a real man. 

5.Curriculum should motivate the children towards the attainment of up-to-date knowledge of the whole world. 

On the basis of these above principles, Aurobindo includes the different subjects and activities in the curriculum for the different stages of education and types of education for the proper growth of the learners. 

(a) Primary stage: 
Mother tongue, English, French, Literature, National History, Art, Painting, General Science, Social Studies and Arithmetic. 

(b) Secondary stage: 
Mother tongue, English, French, Arithmetic, Art, Physics, Chemistry, Biology, Physiology, Health Education and Social Studies. 

(c) University stage: 
Indian and Western Philosophies, History of Civilization, English Literature, French Literature, Sociology, Psychology, History of Science, Physics, Chemistry, Zoology, Botany, International Relations and Integration. 

(d) Vocational education: 
Arts, Paintings, Photography, Sewing, Sculptural drawings, Typing, Shorthand, Cottage Industries, Carpentry, Mechanical and Electrical Engineering, Nursing, Indian and European Music, Dramatisation and Dancing. 

(e) Physical education: 
Physical training, games, gymnastics, preventive medical care and health education. 

(f) Mental education: 
It is meant for the development of the powers of the child's mind. It includes the study of Language, Mathematics, Social Science and Applied Sciences. 

(g) Psychic and spiritual education: 
Spiritual and psychic values such as love, truth, faith in God, strength of mind and heart are stressed. 

(h) International education: 
Universal love, sympathy, fellow feeling and international understanding are the main features of this education. 

(i) Moral education: 
The pupils should be guided to cultivate: 
(i) Right emotions 
(ii) noble habits; 
(iii) right associations; and 
(iv) right actions to develop morality among them. 

Moral training should be supplemented by the application of Raja Yoga. This type of training purifies the mind and the body. 

(j) Vital education: 
It includes various activities such as student participation in music, fine art, dance, drama, craft and ballet. 

Method of Teaching
(1) Freedom to child: 
Freedom to the child enables him to acquire more and more knowledge by his own efforts. Any restriction imposed on the child will retard his natural growth and development. So, the teacher should act only as a helper and guide and stimulator for the natural development of the child. 

(2) Love and sympathy for the child: 
The teacher should treat the child with utmost love, sympathy and kind consideration. This will reduce the tension felt in learning and promote the natural development of the child. 

(3) Mother tongue: 
Education through mother tongue enables the child to grasp and understand even the most difficult subjects. Hence, the medium of instruction should be in mother tongue. 

(4) Child-centred education: 
Education should always be child centred. The teacher should study the varied interests of his pupils before he provides education to them. This will encourage and motivate the learners to acquire more and more knowledge. 

(5) Self-experience: 
Self-learning experiences should be provided to the child. This type of learning is very useful for his future life. 

(6) Learning by doing: 
Aurobindo believes that learning by doing is the best method of learning. This method places great emphasis on the activities of the pupils. Here, the bookish knowledge is supplemented by experimentation. 

(7) Group learning or co-operative learning: 
The teaching-learning process is a cooperative process. Therefore, there must be a learning based on the cooperative activities of teacher and children. 

(8) Nature of child: 
Naturally each child has been gifted with some mental and spiritual potentialities. Education should develop these gifts in the child by developing his inner capacity. 

(9) Education according to 3 A's: 
The mind of the child is a great vehicle for acquiring knowledge. So, the mind has to be consulted in his growth. According to Aurobindo, education should be provided to the child according to three A's namely, age, ability and aptitude. For this purpose, the teacher should adopt the methods of teaching according to the age and nature of the child. He should know the ability and aptitude of his students before he imparts education to them. Aurobindo emphasises this aim of education because every child has something divine in him. It is education which should discover and develop the divine qualities in the child. 

(10) Lead child from near to far: 
The child should be educated from the known to the unknown and from what he is to what he shall be. It is to work from the near to the far. All new knowledge must be built around the child's daily experiences directly connected with his environment-local as well as national. The past is our foundation, the present is our material and the future will be our aim and summit. Thus, the past, present and future should go hand-in-hand hand towards the progress of the individual. 

Place of Teacher
The teacher occupies a very important role in the process of education. He is an embodiment of self-control, humility, spiritual equality between man and man. In the words of Aurobindo, "Teacher is a man helping his brothers, a child leading children, a light kindling other lights, an awakened soul awakening other souls, at the highest a power of presence of the divine calling to him other powers of the divine". He also remarks, "One must be a saint and a hero to be a good teacher. One must become a great `yogi' to be a good teacher". According to Aurobindo, "The teacher is not an instructor or task master; he is a helper and guide. His business is to suggest and not to impose. He does not actually train the pupil's mind, he only shows him how to perfect his instruments of knowledge and helps him and encourages him in the process. He does not impart knowledge to him. He shows him how to acquire knowledge for himself. He does not call forth the knowledge that is within. He only shows him where it lies and how it can be habituated to rise to the surface". 

The teacher is not only an instructor but a helper and a guide for the pupils. He should not impose anything on the learners. He should stimulate the child in order to develop him naturally. The role of the teacher will always be appreciated if he can prepare the child to serve the suffering humanity and eradicate the evils, which are obstructing the progress of society and humanity. 

Place of Child
According to Aurobindo, nature has bestowed different human beings with different capacities and powers. Therefore, education should develop in the child whatever has already been endowed to him by God. In this regard, he says, "The child is a soul to find them, to find himself, to grow into their maturity, into a fullness of physical and vital energy and utmost breadth, death and height of his emotional, his intellectual and his spiritual being". Thus, each human being is self-developing. But the parents and the teachers should help him achieve the fullest development. He believes that the child has his own inherent capacities and special abilities. So, he has assigned a special place to the child in the teaching-learning process. Hence, education should satisfy the needs and interests of the child. This will enable the child to develop his personality fully according to his powers. Aurobindo observes, "The idea of hammering the child into the shape desired by the parents or teacher is a barbarous and ignorant superstition. There can be no great error than for the parents to arrange before hand that his son shall develop particular qualities and capacities. To force the nature to abandon its own Dharm is to do permanent harm, mutilate its growth and deface its perfection". 

Aurobindo is in favour of full freedom for the child to express himself and act without any restriction imposed on him. The teacher should not interfere in the self-experience of his pupils. Aurobindo believes that the child has his own interests and potentialities. So, the purpose of education is to develop these divine gifts fully and turn the child into a superman. For this purpose, the child should be provided full freedom. The freedom of the child enables him to develop his latent capacities and helps him to acquire more knowledge. 

Contribution of Aurobindo to Education
(1) National system of education: 
Aurobindo saw that the people of India were moving away from spiritualism to materialism. Consequently, the inherent divine light in them was decreasing. So, he felt that Indians need such education which develops the power of our mind based on Indian culture. The national system of education should have right relation with life, need and soul of our nation. In fact, national system of education is the way to achieve national integrity and preserve and promote our culture and tradition. 

(2) Child centred-education: 
Though Aurobindo was an idealist, he favoured child-centred education. According to him, education should be based on the mental aptitudes and psychological needs of the child. In short, education should develop his personality according to his innate powers. This view is accepted and practiced by all educators of the east and west. 

(3) Moral education: 
Aurobindo believed that physical development of the child leads to corruption and dishonest life. So he gave importance to the study of moral education. According to him, "The wildness and recklessness of many youngsters are only the over-flowing of an excessive strength, greatness and nobility. They should be purified, not discouraged". Today, most of the educational institutions include moral education as an integral part of general education. 

(4) Religious education: 
Aurobindo was an idealist in nature. So, he gave more importance to the spiritual development of the child. Religious education enables the child to achieve such development. According to him, "To live for God, for humanity, for country, for others, for oneself in these". Hence, religious education should be imparted not through preaching but by practice of religious life. In fact, religious education has become an impart of school instruction. 

(5) Physical education: 
Aurobindo realised the importance of physical education and believed that such education aimed at the perfection of the body, its health, strength and fitness. According to him, "If our seeking is for a total perfection of the being, the physical part of it cannot be left aside, for the body is the material basis, the body is the instrument which have to use". Thus, he gave more importance to the physical development of the child. The same idea is insisted in all educational institutions. 

(6) Education of yoga: 
Aurobindo believed that taking up yoga will to lead man to perfection. So, education without yoga is insufficient. It means a complete education needs the help of yoga. According to him, "Yoga is life, which bridges the gap between ordinary man and superman". It strengthens the power of mind. Thus, the study of yoga becomes an integral part of life and finds an important place in the present education. 

(7) Education of mind: 
Aurobindo believed that man's mind is imperfect and it is not in a position to understand the integral truth. Hence, it requires the development of intellect through increasing concentration on attention. He regarded the steady and long practice as the way to the development of the power of double and triple of multiple concentration. As the mind of the child is the great vehicle of acquiring knowledge, it should be consulted in his growth. According to him, "The first thing the teacher has to do is to accustom the pupil to concentrate attention". This enables the child to observe, compare, remember and judge various class of objects. Today the development of mind has been emphasised through brahmacharya, meditation and yoga. 

(8) Education of senses: 
Like naturalists, Aurobindo believed that the child gathers knowledge and experiences for his mental development through his senses of sight, hearing, touch, smell, taste and understanding. So the training of senses should be the most important type of early education of the child. In fact, he stressed on the training of six senses-eyes, ears, nose, mouth, skin and mind. It is accepted that senses are gateways of knowledge and importance is given to the development of senses. 

(9) Medium of instruction: 
Like other Indian philosophers, Aurobindo felt that education should be imparted to the child through the medium of his mother tongue. According to him, "Other languages can be mastered only after getting a sound knowledge in one's mother tongue. The mastery of mother tongue enables the educand to understand the literature, history of his country and the life around him". This is particularly by true about the early education of the child. 

(10) Freedom of the child: 
Though Aurobindo was an idealist, he advocated the freedom of child. He gave a special place to the child in the teaching-learning process. He wanted that the child should be treated with love, affection and sympathy. Such freedom enables the child to achieve the fullest personality development according to his talents and capacities. Freedom of the child is recognised and implemented in educational practices. 

(11) International education: 
The main features of Aurobindo's education are universal, love, sympathy, fellow feeling and international understanding. He put these ideas into practice in his World University Centre at Pondicherry, where men and women of all countries can live together in peace and harmony above all creeds, politics and nationalities. For this purpose, he included the study of International Relations and Integration in the curricular prescribed for University Education. Such studies have become important in fostering internationalism. 

(12) Comprehensive curriculum: 
Aurobindo is a distinguished philosopher and educationists who prescribed a number of different subjects and activities in the curriculum according to the age, abilities and needs of the child. In fact he prescribed varied curriculum according to primary, secondary, higher secondary and university stages of education with a view to prepare the child for life. The present educationist also formulates and follows different curriculum on the basis of development of the child. 

(13) Methods of teaching: 
Like Naturalists, Aurobindo introduced new methods in the teaching-learning process. He stressed on the cooperative activities of the teacher and the taught. Teacher from the known to the unknown from the near to the far or from that which is to that what shall be and teach according to the three A's (age, ability and aptitude) were his notable teaching techniques that have been implemented by the modern educators. 

(14) Importance to teacher: 
Teacher occupied a very important role in Aurobindo's integral education. He should be an embodiment of self-control, humility, and spiritual equality between man and man. According to him, "Teacher should be a saint and a hero to be good teacher". Teacher should be a friend, philosopher and guide of the child. These concepts are accepted by the educators of the world. 

(15) Education through practical experiences: 
Aurobindo introduced different science subjects and activities in order to educate the child through practical experiences. He believed that education through practical experience develops the powers of imagination, creativity and the nature of enquiry in the child. Such experiences enable the child to solve the problems of life. Thus, education given through practical experiences is very effective and interesting, and it has a unique importance in teaching technical, vocational and science subjects. 

Aurobindo's Integral Education
Meaning of Integral Education 
Integral education is that education in which the human body, mind and intellect are combined together to form a magnificent machine. We can call it a machine for want of a better word and it is superior to any other equipment built by man. According to Aurobindo, "Integral education is that which helps to bring out full advantage, makes ready for the full purpose of life and scope of all that is in the individual man, which at the same time helps him to enter into his right relation with life, mind and soul of the people to which he belongs and with the great total life, mind and soul of humanity of which he himself is a unit and his people or nation, a separate and inseparable member". He is a great supporter of the national system of education and he realises that this is the source of national reconstruction. This view is contained in his system of integral education. In this way, integral education should have the following four chief points: 

Chief Points of Integral Education 
Education must integrate the human body, mind and soul to serve its real purpose. 

(1) Strengthening body and mind: 
Integral education should strengthen the physical and mental aspects through the study of science and technology. Education through science and technology makes the material basis stronger, complete and more effective for the manifestation of the spirit. 

(2) Five principal aspects of integral education: 
Aurobindo's idea of integral education is the idea of complete education. He says that education to be complete must have five principal aspects relating to the five principal activities of human being-the physical, the vital, the mental, the psychic and the spiritual. 

(3) Four major aspects of truth: 
Integral education should have four major aspects of truth, namely, love, knowledge, power and beauty. In the words of Aurobindo, "The truth we seek is made of four major aspects: love, knowledge, power and beauty. These four attributes of truth will spontaneously express themselves in our being. The psyche will be the vehicle of true and pure love, the mind that of infallible knowledge and the body will be the expression of a perfect beauty and a perfect harmony". 

(4) The vehicles of love, knowledge, power and beauty: 
Integral education of Aurobindo spells four vehicles for the four aspects of Truth. 

(5) Education of physical being (tapasya of beauty): 
Physical education is an important component of integral education. The physical body will be the expression of a perfect beauty and a perfect harmony. Hence, education should be directed towards the realisation of four important goals, namely, 
(a) To discipline and control the physical functions. 
(b) Harmonious development of the body and physical movements.
(c) Rectification of defects and overcoming physical limitations. 
(d) To awaken the body consciousness. 

One has to undertake physical exercises to achieve the first three goals, and to achieve the fourth goal one has to draw upon multiple faculties. The spiritual discipline, service, bhakti, yoga, games and sports, asanas and pranayama are considered to be the most important tools to control the restlessness of the body and to achieve concentration. Physical education is also essential for controlling the sex drives. 

(6) Education of vital being (tapasya of power): 
Education of the vital being is an important part of the concept of integral education. Vital education lays emphasis on the observation of impulses, energies and desires of the vital being of man. As a result, the pupils get an opportunity to understand both the inner world and the world outside. The second aspect of the vital being is the utilisation of the sense organs which helps an individual to receive knowledge. Therefore, senses like, sight, hearing, smell, touch, taste and mind should be trained. To get a training to be an aesthetic personality, one should give up bad habits and develop human habits, emotions and their associations. Aurobindo advises that training of the senses should be the first care of the teacher. 

(7) Education of mental being (tapasya of knowledge):
Since the human mind is the vehicle of infallible knowledge, education must build its power to make it an excellent medium of knowledge. The mind has to be made silent and attentive in order to receive knowledge and manifest it. By yoga one acquires mastery of the mind and reaches a region higher than the mind, which we call knowledge. This helps in the gradual liberation from ignorance. Mental education has three fold functions: (i) to gather old knowledge; (ii) to discover new knowledge; and (iii) to develop the capacity to use and apply the knowledge acquired. The pupil develops cognition, ideas, intelligence and mental perceptions through the application of his knowledge. As we have already mentioned, the mind has four levels-chitta, manas, buddhi and intuition. 

(8) Education of psychic being (tapasya of love):
Psychic being is the psychological centre of man. It is the vehicle of true and pure love. The function of education is to enable man to become conscious of this psychological centre which is the key to an integral personality. Love is made of desirable feelings and emotions, directed towards whole-hearted clarity and goodwill towards others and communion with the Divine. Psychic education enables an individual to see his soul and helps him to grow in freedom according to its inner nature. It supports the vital, the physical and the mental being so that an individual understands life and himself. 

Two-fold Bases of Integrated Education 
Aurobindo has mentioned two bases for integrated education: 
• Individuality is one whole 
• Humanity is one. 

(1) Individuality is one Whole: 
This can be divided into the following categories: 

(a) Harmonious development: 
The individuality of man constitutes body, mind and soul which have their significances when they are harmoniously developed. An individual's intellectual development must be developed in relation to his moral, emotional and spiritual nature and vice versa. A balanced and harmonious development of all the aspects of human personality-cognitive (knowledge), conative (skills) and affective (attitudes and values) moulds an individual into an integrated individual. 

(b) Socio-economic-politico integration: 
Education should aim at developing the individual as an economic, political and social being, in order to train him as a productive and disciplined member of the society. 

(c) Different aspects of 'self' but self is one: 
We may distinguish in man the different aspects of his being, mental, intellectual, ethical, practical, aesthetic, physical and the like. But all these have been as powers of a "self" that manifests through them and yet they are not all the `self'. 

(d) No concentration on academic perfection alone: 
The study of the mind is essential to understand the innate power of the child. Any system of education which concentrates on academic perfection of the child, disregarding his mind, hampers intellectual growth. Hence, concentration on academic perfection of the child and the study of his mind are necessary to produce an integrated mind. 

(2) Humanity is one: 
Aurobindo immerses himself in vedanta and yoga. He developed synthesis between the East and the West instead of finding conflict between them. He also synthesises `Spirit' and `Matter', `Science' and `Vedanta' in order to see the oneness of humanity. 

Objectives of Integral Education 
Aurobindo's integral education has the following objectives: 

(1) Recovery of old spiritual knowledge: 
Integral education should aim at the recovery of the old spiritual knowledge experienced in all its splendour, depth and fullness. 

(2) New forms of philosophy and literature: 
The second objective of Aurobindo's integral education is to let the spiritual knowledge flow into new forms of philosophy, literature, art, science etc. 

(3) Synthesis of a spiritualised society: 
The aim of integral education is to strive for a great synthesis of a spiritualised society. According to Aurobindo, the existing problems must be dealt within the light of the Indian spirit. 

Stages of Integral Education 
Stages of Integral Education
There are five stages in the integral education related to the principal activities of the human beings. The five stages of integral education succeed each other in a chronological order for the growth of the individual. But the five stages must continue, complementing each other, till the end of life.

(1) Physical education: 
It includes physical training, games, gymnastics, balanced diet, preventive medical care and health education. For total harmonious and integrated development of the body, physical discipline, by controlling various parts of the body and freedom from diseases, must be obtained. 

(2) Vital education: 
It includes student participation in music, fine art, dance, drama, craft and ballet for the development and utilisation of senses so as to eventually control them. Learning by doing is the guiding principle of this education. 

(3) Mental education: 
It includes various academic studies such as languages, mathematics, social sciences, applied and pure sciences and so on for the development of attention and concentration, development of the capacity to expand and enrich the mental horizon and development of reasoning power to accept the desirable thoughts and reject the undesirable ones. 

(4) Psychic education:
It includes the study of spiritual and psychic values like love, truth, faith in God, and strength of mind and heart. Psychic education is related to yoga. It is education which includes the development of non material values. 

(5) Spiritual education:
This education leads to eternal bliss. This is the highest level of education called super-mental education. This stage is reached after one develops physical, vital, mental and psychic elements. It requires deep and intensive insight and persistent efforts. 

Measures for Achieving the Ends of Integral Education

(1) Role of teacher in integral education: 
The teacher has a unique place in integral education. He is not an instructor or task master. He is a helper and guide. His business is to suggest ways for the natural development of the child. 

(2) Discipline in integral education: 
Aurobindo stresses the significance of free environment under the guidance of the teacher. Maximum freedom should be given to the child for the development of the psychic being. The students should be allowed to choose their own subjects and develop the areas of interests. 

(3) Moral training in integral education: 
Moral principles should be provided to the child through the personal example of the teacher. It should be based on practical opportunities. Moral training should be given through yoga. 

(4) Faith in the potentialities of child in integral education: 
Generally every child possesses hidden potentialities. The teacher must have an immense faith in the capacity of the child. His task is to bring it out and help develop it so as to turn the child into a complete man. 

(5) Physical education in integral education: 
The human body is the means of fulfillment of dharma. Therefore, the aim of integral education is the development of the physical part of the body and it cannot be left aside. 

(6) Principles of teaching in integral education: 
The basic principle of true teaching is that nothing can be taught. The knowledge is within the child. It is revealed through swadharma and swabhav. The second principle of teaching is that the child should be consulted in his own growth. The chief aim of education is to help the growing soul to draw out that which is hidden and make it perfect for the best use. The third principle of teaching is teaching the child from the known to the unknown. That is, all new knowledge must be built around the child's daily experiences directly connected with his environment. 

(7) Curriculum in integral education: 
Curriculum in integral education system includes the five basic elements of `being' the physical, the vital, the mental, the psychic and the spiritual. The integral education system emphasises a flexible, interest based and environment based curriculum so that the child achieves the utmost possible perfection of himself and contributes his maximum to humanity as a whole. 

The concept of integral education is a remarkable contribution of Sri Aurobindo. We must understand the inter-relationship among the different elements within man, the nation and the universal humanity. We must also see the synthesis among these elements in order to grasp the concept of integral education. 

Aurobindo Ashram at Pondicherry (Aurobindo International Centre of Education)
Sri Aurobindo's Ashram school was established near the sea-shore at Pondicherry in 1943. It started functioning with twenty children of Aurobindo's disciples. It expanded gradually from a primary school to a full - fledged high school. The Ashram is intended to provide an environment of peace and harmony. There are both residential and day students. The Ashram school was inaugurated in 1952 by the Mother [Sri Aurobindo's close spiritual collaborator, Mirra Richard (1878-1973) a French women, was known as "The Mother". She played an active role in the merger of the French pockets in India, and according to Sri Aurobindo's wish helped to make Pondicherry a seat of cultural exchange between India and France] as the "Sri Aurobindo International University Centre". But it came to be known as "Sri Aurobindo International Centre of Education" from 1959 onwards. In this way, the growth of Ashram is like that of an organism. It has developed with many departments and services, workshops, farms and with a number of commercial and industrial undertakings. 

Nature of International Centre of Education 
The centre of international education is meant to be the cradle of the new world. The life of the children is related to the life led in the Ashram. It aims at divine human life in the light of the teaching of Aurobindo and the Mother. There is a continuity of education from the kindergarten till the end of studies. A student is required to stay at the centre for 10 to 15 years. He may continue to live if he likes after his studies. This centre provides everything needed for the free growth of the child according to nature without any compulsion whatsoever. A child should not be brainwashed or indoctrinated through false propaganda. 

The international centre of education provides opportunities to develop unity in diversify which is very essential for national integration and international understanding. The students and the teachers of this institution are from different parts of India and other countries of the world. They live and work together, irrespective of their race, caste, creed, colour, sex and religion. Most of the Indian languages are taught here. The culture of different countries is accepted here to promote racial unity and develop a synthetic organisation of all nations. Their attire, games and sports, exhibitions and films are used extensively for the purpose of encouraging unity in diversity. 

Objectives of International Centre of Education 
1.To evolve a system of education for making it dynamic and ideal for society. 
2.To organise an environment which may provide inspiration and facilities for the exercise and development of the five aspects of personality-the physical, the vital, the mental, the psychic and the spiritual. 
3.To emphasise the unity of all knowledge. 
4.To develop the sense of oneness of mankind. 
5.To devise and prepare for the role India has to play in the formation of the new international harmony. 

Curriculum at the International Centre 
1.Psychic and spiritual studies. 
2.Academic subjects. 
3.Physical and health education. 
4.Cultural activities like art, music, dance and drama. 
5.Vocational Training. 
6.Education for International understanding. 

Principles of Integral Teaching and Learning at International Centre 
(1) Sense training:
Sense training is developed through observation of natural phenomenon under the guidance of the teacher. 

(2) Developing power of investigation: 
Observation plays an important role in developing the power of investigation. 

(3) Training of memory: 
Training of memory and mind is done by equipping the students to note the similarities and dissimilarities. 

(4) Training in making judgements: 
The sense training, power of investigation, and training of memory and mind provide suitable training in making judgements. 

(5) Training of logical faculty: 
Training of logical faculty depends on ascertaining correctness of facts, collecting accurate data and sifting the facts by eliminating the false elements. 

(6) Training of imagination: 
Training of imagination depends on forming current images, developing the power of creative thinking, and training in appreciating the existence of truth, goodness and beauty of soul in the existing things. 

(7) Training of languages: 
Training of language is given through appropriate methods of teaching and also through concrete things. 

(8) Free environment: 
Aurobindo advocates the significance of free environment under the guidance of the teacher so that the child develops freely by choosing its own subjects and activities. 

The Mother of International Centre of Education says, "The aim of this center is to help individuals to become conscious of the fundamental genius of the nation to which they belong and the same time to put them in contact with the modes of living of other nations so that they may know and respect equally the true spirit of all the countries upon the earth. For all world organizations to be real and to be able to live, must be based on mutual respect and understanding between nation and nation as well as between individual and individual". 

Auroville, "The City of Dawn" five miles away from Pondicherry was inaugurated by the Mother on February 28, 1968. It is a landmark in the history of Aurobindian education. The Charter of Auroville was signed by children from 121 countries who poured soil from their respective lands into a lotus shaped urn symbolising the unity of the human race. Auroville aims at searching for a new education in a new society. It is the city of twenty-first first century man. The environment of Auroville was organized with the aim of humanising the people living there by synthesising their nations, ideologies, knowledge, culture etc. The city has four zones namely cultural, industrial, residential and educational. They represent the four important activities of human life. 

According to the Charter of Auroville, "Auroville belongs to nobody in particular. It belongs to humanity as a whole and is conceived as "the City of Human Unity". But to live in Auroville, one must be a willing servitor of the Divine consciousness. Auroville will be the place of an unending education, of constant progress and youth that never ages. 

Juile Medlock writes in The Sunday Standard, "Attracting much favourable attention to India all around the world these days is the unique new project underway in South India, just outside of Pondicherry-the building of Auroville as a city of universal culture in international cooperation and human unity". 

It is a World University Centre, a university in which continuing education from infancy to old age will be offered. The Auroville project has the support of the Indian Government and of UNESCO. The purpose of the project is to create a universal town where men and women of all countries can live together in peace and harmony, above all creeds all politics and all nationalities. UNESCO has invited its member-states to participate actively in the building of the new town, stressing that "It will add a new dimension to UNESCO's activities for the promotion of international co-operation and understanding and well being, together with the values of different cultures and civilizations in a harmonious environment with integrated living standards which correspond to a man's physical and spiritual need". Auroville wants to be the bridge between the past and the future, and will be a site of material and spiritual development for a living embodiment of an actual human unity. 

Aurobindo is a great philosopher, educationist, nationalist and a yogi. His contribution to the field of education is very unique. He stresses child-centred education and allows maximum freedom to the child for his natural development. He integrates the Western philosophy with the Indian one. He accepts the teacher as a helper, guide and instructor. The bases of his philosophy of education are spiritual faith, brahmacharya and yoga practices. His philosophical ideas lead us from materialism to spiritualism. He preaches the ideals and values of Indian culture based on brahmacharya, yoga, concentration and meditation. His preaching helps an individual to attain the full development of his body, mind and soul in a harmonious way. The philosophy of Sri Aurobindo Ghosh is a unique one in the field of Indian education. He wants to make the Indian soceity good and happy by making the individuals good through education. In the words of Dr. R.S.Mani, "His views on education reveal that Sri Aurobindo Ghosh was one of the most eminent and distinguished educationists of our country".
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