Q52. What is the true education, according to Sikhism?
The aim of education is to develop and integrate the human personality. The present system is lopsided and needs modification. Guru Nanak based the uplift of man on the cultivation of character. It is character which helps us to make the right choice or to take the right step in a moral crisis. Temptations come so suddenly that man has to make quick decisions. Unless one has virtue and guts both acquired by steady practice over a number of years, one may easily fall prey to evil.
The function of education is to prepare man’s intellectual, aesthetic and emotional background in such a way that the individual’s development is harmonious. They should follow Dharma, in its broad aspect. This includes reverence for teachers and elders, a solicitude for the welfare of neighbours and fellow-citizens and a respect for all types of life: birds, animals, plants with the emphasis on duty rather than rights.
Guru Nanak taught us of three Hs in place of three Rs; The knowledge of the Hand, knowledge of the Head and Knowledge of the Heart. The education of the Hand implies the dignity of labour, self-reliance and of service to humanity. The education of the Head implies an appreciation of the wonders of nature, an understanding of the mysterieis of the universe and a search for “truth”. The education of the Heart includes the awakening of the higher self and the seeking of true inspiration from within.
Guru Nanak explained the spiritual significance of some letters of the alphabet to the Pandit and the Mullah. Alif stands for Allah, Sassa stands for an awareness of God – the Creator of the universe. He laid emphasis on character-building, citizenship and service: “The essence of wisdom lies in the service of humanity.” Guru Nanak trained his disciple Angad through a creative and purposeful discipline. Just as a student needs a teacher, so a disciple needs a Guru. Men find it difficult to resist evil and do good, if left on their own, but if they are assisted by a great personality who possesses dynamic power, than their progress will be steady and significant.