The Ramakrishna Mission Calcutta Students’ Home was founded by Swami Nirvedananda, who himself was an ardent educationist of his times. The educational atmosphere in India during that time was enforced by the British to create future clerks, who would work and manage the colony for them. With the advent of Swami Vivekananda and his ideas the atmosphere in India started changing. Vivekananda introduced radical ideas in the field of education, which were at once modern and still rooted in the ancient Indian tradition. He wanted Indians to learn the modern science and technology, the European methods of organizing along with Indian moral and ethical traditions. Swami Nirvedananda, the founder of Students’ Home, had beautifully infused these ideas of Swami Vivekananda for the students of the Home. To understand them clearly we need to see the Educational Philosophy of Swami Vivekananda and how it is being practiced in Students’ Home.
Educational Philosophy of Vivekananda
- Education is the manifestation of perfection already in man.
- We want that education by which character is formed, strength of mind is increased, the intellect is expanded, and by which one can stand on one’s own feet.
The monks of Students’ Home have been trying to work out a viable system to put the philosophy in practice and enrich the students’ lives all these years. Sincere efforts were made and are still continuing in their humble way.
- We must understand that each person has a divine aspect hidden within him and we must allow him to manifest it.
- First is Shraddha – ‘I am first among many and I am mediocre among many others, but I am never the last’. Most of the boys come from rural Bengal and categorically lack this ‘Shraddha’. We try to infuse it into their minds.
- Give positive ideas. ‘Never tell a man that he has done wrong. Tell him that he has done good or fair enough, but can do better’.
- Monks must believe in the students and encourage them in all fields.
- Schools and Colleges where these students study to get their degrees have been laying too much emphasis on exam passing than on acquiring of knowledge of the subject. The Home provides in-house tuition facility conducted by present and ex-students, where we lay emphasis on acquiring knowledge of the subject. Once a subject is understood then passing the exam is simple.
- Students are encouraged to question. Monks try their best to answer all their questions without ridiculing.
- Love is the main basis of bonding with students and never the ‘Rod’. ‘Command Respect not Demand’ this maxim is the watchword.
- For Character Building – Moral Ethical Values – are practiced by monks so the students believe in them and try to practice.
- Strength of Mind – Though concentration techniques are not taught formally but the home encourages the students to attend the morning and evening prayers in the temple. This enables them to calm their ever fickle mind in the serene atmosphere of the temple. If asked for specifically then monks can provide some basic techniques.
- Group Activity & Discipline – Students are asked, by rotation, to do some work in temple, dining hall for serving and act as volunteers in various festivals of the Students’ Home. This teaches them group co-ordination and infuses a sense of responsibility in them.
- Expansion of Intellect – Students are encouraged to gather diverse Information from the various newspapers and magazines subscribed especially for them. Then a unique tradition of Home had been the night ‘Gathering’. In this ‘Gathering’ the monks meet the students in batches every day. There is no sermonizing, no admonishing but pure simple joy through, jokes, poems, stories and anecdotes which subtly infuse in them diverse knowledge and expands their intellect.
- Help in Standing on their own feet – Students are given Ideas for newer and better careers, opportunities are pointed out and as far as possible obstacles are removed.