Meaning and Purpose of Education: A Gandhian View

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‘Education is that which liberates’

Mahatma Gandhi, who considered education to be a lifelong process and also as the means to unite man’s all-round development, wrote in the Harijan on March 10, 1946:

“The ancient aphorism, ‘education is that which liberates’ is true today as it was before. Education here does not mean mere spiritual knowledge, nor does liberation signify only spiritual liberation after death.

Knowledge includes all training that is useful for the service of mankind and liberation means freedom from all manners of servitude even in the personal life. Servitude is of two kinds: slavery of domination from outside and to one’s own artificial needs. The knowledge acquired in the pursuit of this ideal alone constitutes true study.”

This short but evocative statement elucidates that education, according to Gandhi’s belief, is knowledge which contributes to the self-development of man and which inspires him to serve society and, therefore, it paves the way for the welfare of humanity in a greater scale. Its purpose is to bring human beings out of the bonds of slavery, internal or external, and to guide them forward on the pathway of attaining the truth.

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Not only in India, but in the whole world, the constant swelling of the appalling mood of competition, individualism and self-seeking within the field of education is, in fact, contrary to the real meaning and purpose of education. The field of education seems rapidly shifting into an enterprise and this state contributes to the constant decline in the standards of education. Moreover, modern-day education lacks a broad and constructive approach to serve humanity. This is a matter of serious concern.

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In this regard, there is an urgent need to be cautious to ascertain that education remains within the scope of human-values. Only then will education bear meaning and purpose as Mahatma Gandhi believed in. Therefore, the cooperation and effort of academicians, educationists and professors are indispensable to steer education towards this philosophy.

Dr. Ravindra Kumar is an eminent writer, Indologist, political scientist and a former vice chancellor of Meerut University, India, who authored and edited over 100 works on great personalities like Mahatma Gandhi and on various social-cultural issues.