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Teachers : The source of light
12th August, 1990
My dear Pranav,
Vinoba had many fresh ideas about education and teachers. He presented his idea of Acharyakul at Kahalgram in Bihar on 8th March, 1968. He wanted a special role for teachers. He wanted to have Acharya-kul to establish the power of the people as opposed to the power of violence, and distinct from that of law. He wanted teachers to be pioneers of this non-violent revolution. He wanted education to be accepted on par with the judiciary with the same kind of independence.
Acharya, according to him, did not mean only teacher. The root of the word is char; the same root is found in acharan (practice), vicharan (traveling), vichar (thought, deliberation), sanchar (arduous progress), prachar (spreading knowledge ). All these meanings contribute to the ideal of an Acharya. The word Kula means a family. All of us teachers are members of one family.
Every aspect of the work we mean to do - to commit ourselves to knowledge; to strive for mental purity; to watch over the development of our students with affectionate care; to study the problems of society with a disinterested endeavour to reach agreed conclusions for the guidance of the public - all of these are part of the task of establishing the unity of the family that is the family of teachers.
Vinoba said, these are the reasons which led him to choose the name Acharyakul. Kula is a beautiful word, and it is one of those words which have links with both Arabic and Sanskrit. It implies 'all' (Kul) teachers; there is no question of high or law, of great or small. All teachers are to be equally honoured; all will work together, those are the conditions of success in the teaching profession.
"The purpose of Acharyakul is not to acquire power; there are other associations for that. The purpose is to make us teachers more aware of our duties, and more ready to fulfil them, and so enable us to regain our rightful place in society. There is so much darkness around us, how can it be removed? If our surrondings seem dark, it is because we have no light. Light knows no darkness. (1)"
What is the nature of our (teachers) strength? Is it not in the nature of light? The light of knowledge, of wisdom, of thought and reflection. What power in the world can stand before it? When science has made so much progress, when the intellect has such far-reaching power, it will be disaster for humanity if the heart remains small. The problems of today arise from this discrepancy: big brains and small hearts.
Intellectual progress is going to continue, and scientific knowledge is going to expand even further. There is no alternative, if we have to survive, except to expand our hearts. The world outlook of "Jai Jagat" is the only fitting one for our generation; for the world is ours, and we are world citizens, "World-men" (Vishwa - manushah) as the Rg-Veda called it long ago.
Vinoba's Jai jagat we shall discuss some other time.
With love,
L. N. Godbole