The very basic purpose of education is freedom. In Sankrit there is a famous quotation that says, Sa Vidya Ya Vimuktaye. Which on translation means: Education is that which liberates. Real education is that which ensures and gives freedom. It is so holistic that it ensures freedom in many dimensions of life. It ensures physical, economic, social, political, psychological and spiritual freedom. This should be the ultimate goal of education. The root meaning of the word education is to give you the essence which is already there. It is the learning process of exuding you. Just take for example the exuding of the sugar cane juice. When the sugar cane is exuded it gives sugar cane juice. This sugar cane juice is the essence. This essence is already there in the sugar cane. This process of exuding is education. But what actually happens in the name of education is that the sugar cane juice is gulped by those who are imparting the education and you are left out as a dry bagasse. This is what happens actually in the name of education. Let us take another example of that of a rose seed that flowers. The moment the rose seed is flowered it emits fragrance. The only condition for its fragrance is the flowering state. Getting the seed to its flowering state is the process of all education. The role of all teachers is that of gardeners and nothing beyond that. You are not giving anything more that that. You have nothing to give. You can only share the process of flowering and that is education. The fragrance is already hidden deep inside each seed. The only thing is that it is latent and potential. This whole process of learning is education and each student has to go through this learning curve. Each teacher has to fulfill this relationship. Every teacher is only a facilitator. His role is that of a life coach. The relationship between a teacher and a student is an existential one. It is an eternal relationship. And it is very subtle in nature. It is always given with a caution. The content is delicate, please handle with care. It requires that careful handling.
The place where highest education given to a student is called an University. And the whole existence that we are all part of is called an Universe. Now why these two words are same? The root of both these words is the same. Just think! The earlier teachers, acharyas, sages who have given these words were the wisest people on earth. This was the basic condition to enter into the universe. The university was teaching or giving the real meaning of the universe that we are all part of. The university was a gate through which the student enters and learns the whole thing about the universe and exits from the other gate and enters into the universe where we all live and interact. That is the place where we play all our relationships. It is a habitat and an ecosystem for all the human life to exist and experience the ultimate joy of life. This is what we call our society. The ultimate outcome of the quantum physics today is that we and our universe are not two separate entities. It is a participating universe. It is a mirror and we are all a reflection of that mirroring. We are all a mirror image of that which is already there. The biggest mystery is that if we are sorrowful the universe looks sorrowful. If we are revengeful the universe looks revengeful. Not only this, the universe helps you in that direction. The other side is also true. If we are happy the whole universe appears happy. If we are joyful the whole universe looks joyful. And the whole universe also helps to multi-fold this joy. The biggest discovery is that you are your own universe. Whatever we are, the universe reflects or echoes that. Have you ever experimented with the phenomenon of echo in a mountain range? Whatever you say the mountain echoes the same thing. If we cry the same thing echoes. If we abuse the same thing echoes. And if we laugh the whole mountain laughs with us. It echoes and vibrates the same laughter. Our nerves and the nerves of the universe are not different. We are all an interconnected oneness. This is the biggest discovery of the quantum physics today.
The same was the discovery and understanding of all the Upanishadic sages, the Buddhas and the Zen Masters. Time immemorial they were all saying the same thing. That we are all reflections of the same reality which is one, universal and eternal. Imparting and bringing of this understanding in each student has to be the goal of education. Then only all our relationships in the outside world will be meaningful. Then only the life in the working world will be meaningful. The student of today goes through the stresses of the parents, stresses of the education, stresses of the working life and finally the stresses of his own personal life. The whole life instead of becoming a joy-ride becomes a stress-ride. All unnecessary information is stuffed in the name of education. But please remember always that information is not transformation. The education that only informs is not education at all. The education that uses all information for transformation is education. Then only the content becomes meaningful. Then only we will be content with the content. The content should fulfill us. You look at the real meaning of the word content. The word is really very beautiful. Just listen to the sound of this word. The meaning of content is that which fulfills you.
I am always delighted whenever our former President A.P.J. Abdul Kalam speaks. He is a great human being and a true teacher. In his own words while speaking to the Teach for India (TFI) fellows he says, "I am a teacher too, and I strongly believe that education can transform students into enlightened citizens". This should be the ultimate goal of all education. The Teach for India (TFI) movement is doing a great job in this direction. All their efforts are commendable. The fellows are real fellows and doing an excellent job. All kudos to them. The TFI movement is focussed on a common vision: 'One day, all children will have access to excellent education'. Let this dream be true. Now the Right to Education (RTE) Act has also come into force. The Right to Education Act has been passed by the parliament last year and came into force from 1st April, 2010. This Act provides for free and compulsory education as a fundamental right of every child in the 6 to 14 age group. At last free education to this age group has become a fundamental right. This is a good step forward. But much needs to be done. This will go a long way in transforming the education and the education sector because the statistics are alarming. The present gross enrollment ratio (GER), i.e., the percentage of students in the age group 17 to 23 accessing higher education in the country is 12.4%. One of the purposes of making drastic changes in the education sector by the HRD ministry is to take this percentage from its present level to 30% by 2020. In numbers, this translates into existing 14 million to 40 million. We require a huge infrastructure for this. This requires colleges three times more than the existing ones. This is what the HRD minister says. But this does not take into account the other unpredictable things. The population is growing. The cost of education is growing. The unemployment figure is growing. And the uncertainties in the economy are rising.
The whole purpose of education is to help the individual re-discover his own inner being. It is not to be created because it is already there. May be we have forgotten our own inner Self because of the wrong programming of the past. Teachers can play a great role in this. That is exactly the reason why Upanishads have called these people Acharyas. The ultimate purpose of education is achieved when freedom and liberation is ensured in all the dimensions of life. The ultimate purpose of education is achieved when the cost of education comes down, the quality of education goes up, the health of the student goes up and the employment opportunities become abundant. All the economic concepts of scaling-up of businesses, business growth and economies of scale have a meaning only when the quality of education is scaled-up and the cost of education is scaled-down otherwise it will be just befooling the people. The biggest wrong belief among the teachers is that the student is like a clay and the teacher is like the potter. This is absolutely a wrong notion. That is why the teachers are trying to make the students into whatever they feel like making. The teachers are trying to mold the students like the clay into whatever they desire to make. This is a very wrong approach. This way the students will end up in becoming toys and robots. This way the students will loose their originality and uniqueness. In reality the student is like a seed and the teacher is like a gardener. The only goal of the teacher is to transform the student to his own flowering consciousness. The law is Caveat Emptor. Let the buyer beware!