My dear Pranav,
Vinoba was basically a teacher. He has given us a wonderful idea in
his book on education.
He says that in all 14 languages listed in the Constitution of India
there is no word for teaching. In English, there are two separate
words "teach" and "learn". In Indian languages the root word is
learn. For "teaching", derived words are coined on the basis of the
root word "learn".
We can learn. We can help learning. In Indian languages, teaching is not
a separate verb. Teaching expresses the ego of teachers. You cannot
teach anyone, you can only make learning possible. These days, the
word for teacher is facilitator. He makes learning possible.
It is not merely a matter of words or semantics. It is a matter of attitude.
Vinoba further said there is nobody who is unlearned. Every one
learns every day. There are no uneducated persons, there are many
people who are not in a position to read or write. Reading and
writing are facilities or tools for learning. They are not learning
itself. They are very useful, but they are only tools. And in any
event they are not the only tools.
We see so many people who cannot read or write. But they can grow crops. They
can get better crops. They can repair cars, thy can drive cars. They
can cook, they can carry loads, they can clean houses, roads, and so
on. They can look after patients. They can grow trees, plants and
tend gardens. In other words, they can "do" so many useful things.
All these things are useful for all of us. How can you call them
not learned? This is a crucial factor in our social attitudes.
Vinoba narrates an episode in the life of Prophet Mohammed. He was
once in deep meditation. He wanted to see God. God wrote a letter
to him. He was unlettered, and so he said, "I am an unlettered
person." I want to see you. Then God gave him a Darsan. Mohammed
told this story to his people and said, "Look if I had learned
alphabet, I would have been happy with the letter, I would have
missed seeing the God for myself." Vinoba narrated this story in a
meeting for farmers. He said, "You physically cultivate your farms, you
do the tilling to level the land, Sun shines on that land and then
you wait to see God. How many of you have seen God? All of them
raised their hands. There was not a single farmer who doubted
whether he had seen God or not. When it rains, the farmers feel
that God has not only come to meet them but to touch them. He
touches them physically with thousands of drops of water in the
showers of rain. They not only see God, they also feel Him. They
are not in doubt about the existence of God. They are learned
enough to know it. They experience God.
Vinoba expressed his thoughts, beliefs, arguments for the villagers in small
or big meetings. He touched their hearts directly. He moved them.
That was his work. That was his style as a public educator, an
Acharya in the true sense of the term.