Ancient Hindu texts classify the first 25 years of a human being’s life as the time for a disciplined life, totally devoted to studies. During this period he should be educated and trained on how to face life, not just how to face exams! The student came under the tutelage of a teacher who was fully devoted to grooming the pupils and shaping their personality to lead a noble meaningful life of sacrifice and service to society. Till full maturity, his time was strictly reserved for training and studies in the field of his learning. These Gurukulas (learning centres) were generally situated away from the towns amid quiet forests, sheltering the student’s mind from external disturbances so that he could absorb and drink deeply at the fount of knowledge.
We are unfair to our youth today. Youthful exuberance is highly excitable, they are vulnerable in their overreaching enthusiasm to quickly set things right in their own immature ways. Half truths are a dangerous weapon to influence an unprepared mind, which is easily misguided for lack of full knowledge and experience. They are pushed into street leadership. The result is a screaming wild mob of youngsters wasting precious youth energy for destruction. Are we encouraging criminal mindsets? Criminals are never “born”, they “become”. Parents just shrug their shoulders in helplessness, they should be responsible for youngsters who grew in their homes and their neighbourhoods! Students should be in libraries and workshops, training to become responsible citizens. Though forward looking, they completely lack the rich experience of age. Tragedies result when we allow a newly shaven face to drive a sports car! We have stretched to absurdity our notion of freedom. Students must learn to respect social order. Unchecked freedom allows uncivilised growth, that however is not the purpose of education.
Prarthna Saran, President Chinmaya Mission Delhi, can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org