BEd 2nd Year Philosophical and Educational Thoughts of Mahatma Gandhi Study Notes
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Philosophical and Educational Thoughts of Mahatma Gandhi
Philosophical Thought of Mahatma Gandhi
Mahatma Gandhi was born on 2 October 1869 at Porbandar in Gujarat in a Vaishnava, prosperous and well-established family. His full name was Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi. His father, Karamchand Gandhi was the dewan of Porbandar state and was a man of religious and virtuous nature. His mother, Putlibai too was a very religious and virtuous woman. Mahatma Gandhi was influenced by his family environment greatly. (BEd 2nd Year Philosophical and Educational Thoughts of Mahatma Gandhi Study Notes)
Gandhi had received education in the Vaishnava religion in his family. He had read the translation of the Manusmriti in his childhood. He used to read Gita regularly. In England, he had read the Bible and the Light of Asia and had enjoyed the company of Annie Besant. His religious and philosophical thoughts developed on the basis of all these. But his life philosophy was basically based on Gita. He called Gita ‘Gita Mata’. (BEd 2nd Year Philosophical and Educational Thoughts of Mahatma Gandhi Study Notes)
Gandhiji has not propounded any new philosophy. He has given practical form to the basic facts of Indian philosophy. But in its practical form, it tells us of the insight of Gandhiji which is known as Gandhi a philosophy, Gandhism or Sarvodaya Darshan. We shall here discuss the metaphysics, epistemology, logic, axiology and ethics of Sarvodaya Darshan of Gandhiji.
Metaphysics of Gandhiji’s Sarvodaya Darshan
Gandhiji considered the Gita the finest treatise of metaphysics. According to Gita, there are two basic elements-Purusha (God) and nature (matter) and God is supreme in them. Gandhiji agreed with this. He clarified that the greatness of God becomes evident by two facts. First, it pervades every particle of nature, but nature does not pervade God. Second, God is the creator and nourisher of this world and is its destroyer. (BEd 2nd Year Philosophical and Educational Thoughts of Mahatma Gandhi Study Notes)
Gandhiji has divulged this fact from Gita that God is the creator of this world and nature is the cause. He took God in the form of absolute truth. (BEd 2nd Year Philosophical and Educational Thoughts of Mahatma Gandhi Study Notes)
Gandhiji believed that God is unchangeable so He is true, while (matter)is changeable so it is untrue.
He considered the soul as part of God. He believed that when God is true, the soul too is true. Gandhiji accepted the soul, God and truth, in the form of beginningless and endless energy.
Gandhiji considered man as the sum total of body, mind and soul and said that the ultimate aim of human life is self-realization, attainment of God and emancipation. He divided human life into two aspects–physical and spiritual. In his view, these two aspects depend on each other, the other cannot develop without the development of the other. A man should develop both these aspects simultaneously. (BEd 2nd Year Philosophical and Educational Thoughts of Mahatma Gandhi Study Notes)
Now the question arises—How can the physical and spiritual aspects of man be developed simultaneously? Gandhiji says that for the development of the physical aspect, physical knowledge and activities are required basically, which can be got by senses, and for the development of the spiritual aspect, spiritual knowledge and activities are needed basically, which can be got by reading the religious scriptures, singing devotional songs, Satsang and social service.
He considered the abidance by the Ekadashi Vitra-Satya (truth), Ahimsa (non-violence), Brahmacharya (celibacy), Asvad (tastelessness), Asteya (non-stealing), Aparigraha (non-hoarding), Abhay (fearlessness), Asparshyata Niwaran (removal of untouchability), Kayak Sharma (physical labour), Sarva Dharma Sambhava (religious goodwill) and Vinamrata (politeness) as necessary for the development of both aspects in proper perspective. (BEd 2nd Year Philosophical and Educational Thoughts of Mahatma Gandhi Study Notes)
Epistemology and Logic of Gandhiji’s Sarvodaya Darshan
Gandhiji divided knowledge into two classes—physical and spiritual. In physical knowledge he has included the knowledge of the physical world and different aspects of human life (social, economic and political); and in spiritual knowledge the has included the metaphysics of the universe. God, soul and Supreme Being. In Gandhiji’s view, both types of knowledge are necessary for man; physical knowledge is necessary for physical life and spiritual knowledge is necessary for self-realization or attainment of God or emancipation.
According to Gandhiji, physical knowledge can be attained by the senses, and spiritual knowledge can be attained by reading devotional songs and Satsang. He considered Gita as the supreme treatise of spiritual knowledge.
Axiology and Ethics of Gandhiji’s Sarvodaya Darshan
Gandhiji considered man as the sum total of body, mind and soul. According to him the ultimate aim of human life is the attainment of truth or God. He called it emancipation. But he emphasized attaining physical development first and making one free from material deficiencies. (BEd 2nd Year Philosophical and Educational Thoughts of Mahatma Gandhi Study Notes)
For emancipation, he considered the Anashakti Yoga of Gita as the best means and for materialistic prosperity has accepted the importance of labour, morality and character. And for the attainment of both these, he has emphasized the abidance by the Ekadash Vrita (truth, non-violence, celibacy, tastelessness, non-stealing, non-hoarding, fearlessness, untouchability removal, physical labour, religious goodwill and politeness). He considered these as the values of human life.
Truth is the end and means both for Gandhiji. In the end, truth is that whichever exists and is endless, that is God, and as a means, truth means true thought, true speech and true conduct. By non-violence, he means the absence of evil thought towards all beings.
In Gandhiji’s view, only the slaughter of the being is not violence, exploiting somebody is also violence and possessing an evil thought about somebody is also violence. (BEd 2nd Year Philosophical and Educational Thoughts of Mahatma Gandhi Study Notes)
In his view, the truth cannot be attained or abided by in the absence of non-violence. He considered non-violence the most essential for the attainment of physical and spiritual perfection. By celibacy, he meant to control the mind by controlling the senses. Keeping away from sensual pleasure amounts to tastelessness. Non-stealing implies not taking somebody’s things. Non-hoarding things mean remaining devoid of things which are not necessary for life. Fearlessness implies freedom from all types of fear.
Untouchability removal is meant not to consider somebody as low caste on the basis of birth. Physical labour is meant not consuming things without labour. Religious goodwill means to consider all religions as the means to attain God. And by politeness is meant renunciation of ego and anger and the development of mercy and forgiveness.
According to Gandhiji, every man should follow these ideals. The person who follows them will think of the rise of all beings and will become a Sarvodaya in the true sense. In Gandhiji’s views, such a person with a liberal heart can alone attain happiness and peace in life and can realize the ‘self (Soul, God). (BEd 2nd Year Philosophical and Educational Thoughts of Mahatma Gandhi Study Notes)
Education Thought of Mahatma Gandhi
The Father of the Nation, Mahatma Gandhi was not only a political leader, but also a great religious analyst and social reformer. He submitted several suggestions for reform in the prevalent education which was bookish, theoretical, narrow and examination-oriented education. He is established as an educationist in the educational field.
Gandhiji considered education as the birth of man and considered it as much necessary for any type of development of man whether physical or spiritual, as is the mother’s milk for the development of the body of the child. This is the reason that he emphasized providing compulsory and free general education for all children up to a certain age.
He clearly opined that this education cannot be imparted by the medium of English; this can be given only by the medium of the mother tongue. (BEd 2nd Year Philosophical and Educational Thoughts of Mahatma Gandhi Study Notes)
As it is, he considered English as the language which causes mental slavery. He wanted education to make man self-dependent and able to earn his livelihood, so he laid special emphasis on the education of handicrafts. Besides, he wanted to affect the spiritual development of man, so he emphasized directing the children to follow Ekadashi Vrita through education. On the basis of this educational philosophy, (BEd 2nd Year Philosophical and Educational Thoughts of Mahatma Gandhi Study Notes)
Gandhiji determined the form of national education and named it Basic Education. We present here the analysis of his educational thought. (BEd 2nd Year Philosophical and Educational Thoughts of Mahatma Gandhi Study Notes)
Concept of Education
Gandhiji did not consider only literacy as education. In his own words, “Literacy is not the end of education nor even the beginning. It is only one of the means whereby men and women can be educated.” Gandhiji considered man as the sum total of body, mind, heart and soul. He clearly opined that education should affect the development of man’s body, mind heart and soul.
Gandhiji transformed the education of 3Rs (reading, writing and arithmetic) into 3Hs (hand, head and heart), and said that the function of education is not to teach how to read, write and calculate, but to develop his hand, brain and heart too. In his own words, “By education, I mean an all-round drawing out of the best, in child and man-body, mind and spirit.”
Aims of Education
According to Gandhiji, the ultimate aim of human life is emancipation. He took emancipation in a very wide sense. He talked of physical, mental, economic and political emancipation first, and then of spiritual emancipation. He reasoned that until a man is free from physical weakness, mental pressure, economic deficiency and political slavery, he cannot attain spiritual emancipation. This is the reason that he wanted to effect the highest development of man’s body, mind and spirit.
The views that Gandhiji expressed about the aims of education can be summarized as follows:
- Physical Development: Whatever the aim of human life, it can be attained through this body, so it should be developed first. Gandhiji had felt the need for this aim during his school life itself. later he considered it necessary for spiritual development too.
- Mental and Intellectual Development: According to Gandhiji, the mind and spirit too should be developed along the body. He said that as mother’s milk is necessary for physical development, in the same way, education is needed for mental development. Education should perform this function. (BEd 2nd Year Philosophical and Educational Thoughts of Mahatma Gandhi Study Notes)
- Individual and Social Development: Gandhiji has laid emphasis on both types of development of man, individual development and social development. Gandhiji considered individual development as necessary for the development of individuals, society and nations. (BEd 2nd Year Philosophical and Educational Thoughts of Mahatma Gandhi Study Notes)
In his view, the supreme manifestation of individual development is spiritual development, and social development is necessary for spiritual development. By social development, he meant to learn to live with love and cooperation. He believed that spiritual development is possible by loving and serving the whole of mankind.
- Cultural Development: According to Gandhiji, culture is related to the spirit and it manifests itself in man’s behaviour. He considered cultural development as necessary for controlling man’s behaviour and for his spiritual progress and considered it to be a chief aim of education. (BEd 2nd Year Philosophical and Educational Thoughts of Mahatma Gandhi Study Notes)
- Moral and Character Development: Gandhiji knew the significance of the force of character. He emphasized its development through education. He considered it necessary to develop the qualities of truthfulness, non-violence, celibacy, tastelessness, non-stealing, non-hoarding and fearlessness in all children. He termed such schools as the factories of character making. In his own words: “The end of all the knowledge must be building up of character, personal purity.”
- Vocational Development: For freedom from economic deficiency, Gandhiji emphasized the vocational aim of education. He wanted to make each man self-dependent and emphasized the education of handicrafts or industry for it. He clearly said that the children should be enabled to earn their livelihood through basic education.
- Spiritual Development: According to Gandhiji, the ultimate aim of human life is emancipation, self-realization or knowledge of the self. The physical, mental, individual, social, cultural, character and vocational developments that we have talked about above, the aim of all these is to help man in attaining self-realization. For it, Gandhiji considered religious and moral education necessary. (BEd 2nd Year Philosophical and Educational Thoughts of Mahatma Gandhi Study Notes)
In this regard, Gandhiji was influenced by Gita. He laid equal emphasis on all of jnana, karma, bhakti and yoga. He considered non-violence and satyagraha as their concrete form.
Curriculum of Education
Gandhiji was aware of the country’s basic needs. For the fulfilment of these needs and for the construction of a classless society, he laid emphasis on an activity-based curriculum. He gave a prominent place to handicraft and cottage industries in basic education (classes 1 to 8). Besides, he included his mother tongue Hindustani, practical mathematics, social subject, general science, music, drawing, hygiene and moral education. (BEd 2nd Year Philosophical and Educational Thoughts of Mahatma Gandhi Study Notes)
Methods of Teaching
Gandhiji considered man as the sum total of body, mind and spirit, and he said that the development of all these is essential for his all-around development. In other words, man’s development depends on these three body, mind and soul. This is the reason that he has given place to the activities of the body, mind and spirit in the teaching process. He had not studied psychology, but it seems that he was a scholar of behavioural psychology. (BEd 2nd Year Philosophical and Educational Thoughts of Mahatma Gandhi Study Notes)
In the educational field, he laid most stress on activity. According to him, learning by doing and learning by self-activity is effective learning. Though he also accepted the significance of narration, explanation and question-answer methods.
He also believed in the listening, thinking and practice method as propounded in the Upanishads and Vedanta. Presenting knowledge as a whole unit and developing it through an activity are the chief bases of his teaching method. This is called the correlation method. But Gandhiji emphasized the use of these teaching methods in their natural way.
We think it necessary to discuss them in brief.
1. Imitation Method: Gandhiji clarified that imitation is the natural tendency of children, they learn by imitation in the beginning, and therefore they should be taught by this method. Gandhiji considered it to be the best method for training the children in good conduct. (BEd 2nd Year Philosophical and Educational Thoughts of Mahatma Gandhi Study Notes)
In his view, good conduct should be founded in children in childhood, the qualities developed at this time are permanent in nature. He laid much emphasis on the fact that the parents and teachers should behave with the children affectionately by which they learn to love. (BEd 2nd Year Philosophical and Educational Thoughts of Mahatma Gandhi Study Notes)
Besides, they should follow truthfulness, non-violence, celibacy, tastelessness, non-stealing, non-hoarding, fearlessness, untouchability removal, physical labour, religious goodwill and politeness in their conduct, so that the children imitate them to do good conduct.
2. Activity Method: Gandhiji clarified that activity is the natural tendency of children, they keep doing one or the other thing at all times, therefore, the education of a subject or skill should be given by activity. Gandhiji has emphasized teaching knowledge or skill by self-experience as far as may be possible. Today, the play-way method and experimental method are activity methods. Gandhiji emphasized the use of this method for the education of art, music and handicrafts.
3. Oral Methods: Oral methods include lecture, question-answer and debate, etc. Gandhiji permitted to use of these methods as auxiliary methods. He clarified that the children are very curious, whatever teaching method you may use, they would keep asking questions in between; their questions should be replied immediately, and their doubts should be resolved. But care should be taken that the children should remain active physically and mentally at all times, they should not be mere passive listeners.
4. Correlation Method: Gandhiji laid much emphasis on the fact that whatever is taught to the children should be taught in the real form in real circumstances. For it, he emphasized making children’s natural environment, social environment or other related handicrafts the centre, of their education, and to impart all knowledge and activities through it. The method of relating all subjects and activities of the curriculum with each other is called the correlation method.
When children’s natural environment, social environment or handicraft is taken as the central subject and all subjects and activities of the curriculum are related to it, the such method should be called the integration method. But in general use, it is also called the correlation method. (BEd 2nd Year Philosophical and Educational Thoughts of Mahatma Gandhi Study Notes)
According to Gandhiji, in this method, the children take part in real activities of their real life and thus learn naturally. Thus, their physical and mental activities are synthesized and they become prepared for real life.
5. Listening, Thinking and Practice Method: Listening, thinking and practice method is our ancient method. In this method, the students listen at first, they hear the oral precepts of the teacher, think upon them and then practise them. In fact, knowledge has no meaning until it becomes a part of our practical life to assist us in our development. Gandhiji accepted the utility of this method for such subjects as religion and philosophy, but with certain amendments.
According to him, when the children have grown up, they should do Satsang, listen to precepts, study, contemplate, discover the truth by intellect and reasoning, and then practise the truth in practical life. But this method can be used only when the children are able to contemplate. (BEd 2nd Year Philosophical and Educational Thoughts of Mahatma Gandhi Study Notes)
Gandhiji accepted the significance of discipline. In his view, true discipline is motivated from within. He opposed the impressionistic method for the attainment of discipline. In his view, true discipline can be developed through the impressionistic method.
He emphasized giving the children a purely natural environment and a higher social environment. He believed that the children will develop high ideals and high conduct in such type of an environment. If the children still follow the wrong track, then the teachers should make use of their self-power to bring them on the right track. But this self-power is not got as it is. The teachers have to follow celibacy in their life. (BEd 2nd Year Philosophical and Educational Thoughts of Mahatma Gandhi Study Notes)
In the views of Gandhiji, the teacher should be an ideal person, the torch of knowledge and a man of good conduct. In his view, a person taking this profession as a mere profession cannot become an ideal teacher. A teacher can become an ideal teacher only when he accepts this profession as an act of social service: He has to function in several forms, as a father, friend, assistant and guide to the students, so he should be forbearing, liberal and patient.
The student is the focal point of the educational process. In Gandhiji’s view, the student should remain disciplined and should follow celibacy. Gandhiji allowed full freedom to the children for their individual development but within the scope of their social and spiritual development. Gandhiji emphasized children’s physical, mental, intellectual and spiritual development from the very beginning and made them self-dependent. In his view, such a person can do good on his own and in the world. According to Gandhiji, the student should be self-restrained and curious. (BEd 2nd Year Philosophical and Educational Thoughts of Mahatma Gandhi Study Notes)
Gandhiji had his unique thought about schools. According to him, the school should be such a workshop where the teachers work devotedly and so much production work should be done in them due to the joint effort of the teachers and students that they become economically self-dependent. He emphasized making schools community centres. He said that schools should conduct different activities for the community and the people of the community should have facilities to read and work there. They should conduct adult education in evening or night classes. (BEd 2nd Year Philosophical and Educational Thoughts of Mahatma Gandhi Study Notes)