What type of Contributions did Vivekananda, Tagore, Gandhi and Aurobindo made for education



Swami Vivekananda was born on the 12th January 1863 and as a young child, he was called as Naren. His meeting of Saint Ramakrishna changed the entire course of his life. He was deeply immersed in spiritual practice.

When his mentor, after the death of Ramakrishna in 1886, Narendra became a wandering Sanyasi and assumed the Name Vivekananda. Later at Cape Comorin, he hit upon a plan the plan of rejuvenating the Indian masses through proper education.


In 1893 he attended the first session of World Parliament of Religions at Chicago. His speech at that occasion made a remarkable impression on the audience about the Hindu way of Universal toleration and belief that all religions are the pathways to the self-realisation.

After his return to Belur for organising the Ashram he devoted himself fully for taking classes, travelling and attending to the Mutt affairs. At an early age of 39, he passed away on the 4th July, 1902.

Vivekananda’s philosophy of life may be briefly summed up as follows:

1. Vivekananda was Vedantinin. According to him, this world is the result of the eternal, impersonal and absolute spirit’s attempt to objectively manifest itself. Man is the highest state of manifestation of this spirit. The ultimate goal of human life is to attain wonderful unity with the Creator.


2. Vivekananda’s concept of Immanence of God and God as supreme power and omniscient. In man, he finds the manifestation of God.

3. He emphasised on the liberal conception of religion and emphasised universalism in religions. No religion is inferior to another. He envisaged a pan religious rather than a secular atmosphere in the educational institutions.

4. He developed a classic synthesis between science and spirituality. He wanted Indians to learn from the west the lessons of science, organisation capacity for unremitting toil and sense of equality.

5. He was a real prophet of Humanity who stood for universalism and spiritual brotherhood. His concept of Man transcended the cultural boundaries of the East and the West and his message has universal relevance. He realised the dignity and diversity of human beings. Man is the divine manifestation of God.


6. Education is the right manifestation of divinity already existing in man. ‘Perfection is already inherent in man and education is the manifestation of the same”.

7. Education is concentration of mind, not a just collection of facts. “We want that education by which character is founded, strength of mind is increased; the intellect is expanded and by which one can stand on one’s feet”. If education were identical with information, the libraries would be the greatest sages in the world and encyclopedias the Rishis.”


Rabindranath Tagore the great poet, dramatist, novelist, actor, composer, educator, philosopher, painter and prophet was born in Calcutta on May 6th, 1861 in a highly educated family. In 1901, he established ‘Shantiniketan in 1901’. In 1913, he was awarded the Nobel Prize for his ‘Gitanjalf. He travelled widely and visited Europe, Japan, and the U.S.A. In 1915, he was conferred Knighthood but he renounced it. In 1921, he established which “Viswabharathf’ which later on became an international university.


His important publications were more in the field of poetry and literature and he contributed a few essays on education. One such is “My School” ‘Sadana’, “Greatest India”, “The Gardener”, “Creative Unity”, “Personality fruit and gathering” etc.

Tagore’s philosophies of life are regarded as more idealistic. He was the Apostle of Truth. Virtue and Beauty (Satyam, Shivam and Sundaram). He believed in the Vedas. He believed in the Supreme Being and regarded it as Omnipotent, Omnipresent, and Omniscient. He professed that in Him and through we find unity between man and man and unity between men and Nature. His philosophy of Education can be studied under the following headings:

1. Relation with nature and man

Tagore pleaded for bringing the child into direct contact with Nature. Such a contact will make the child homely with the real world. The child’s mind is sensitive, alert, eager and restless to receive firsthand knowledge from Mother Nature. Nature is the greatest educator. The child also should be brought into touch with the stream of social behaviour. He believed that the child should be in touch with complete life of the people its economic, intellectual, social, aesthetic and spiritual life.


2. Freedom for the child :

Child should not be made to sit like a mute spectator whilst lessons were pelted at them from, high like hail storms of flowers. Schools are not be factories but provide a free atmosphere for the pupils in contacting Nature and Universe. Freedom, in the real sense, means the liberation of all aspects and powers of the personality of the child.

3. All round development of the child :

The supreme truth of birth is not just to live but also to know our existence and realise the self through love and sympathy with other. The aim of education is to develop the sense of unity in the world family and promote the growth of the balanced and well-integrated personality of child. Education should be for developing one into a ‘whole Man’.

4. Integrated Culture :

There should be a well integration of the Eastern and Western culture which preserved all the values of the past with the new values of today. He upheld that modern science is the greatest contribution of the West to the mankind and no country can prosper without taking full advantage of the same. There should be an adequate assimilation of them with the indigenous values in India.

5. Self-expression :

Education should aim at the development of the active tendencies of the child. Self expression is creative in Nature and should be organised through various forms of art, music dramatics hand-work. Tagore held that through learning a handicraft, one’s mind is also strengthened.

Children react to stimulation with their whole body and mind. The attention of children should be hit by natural phenomena- sunrise sunset, music, flowers etc. His philosophy is the philosophy of an artist and poet. His educational ideas may be summed up as follows:

1. Child must be treated as a child. His physical development should be well taken care of Tagore emphasised education in nature. His intellectual development should be in the nature of assimilation and application of new ideas and knowledge and development of thinking and imagination rather than mere memorization of facts.

Every child should have strong faith in the spiritual force and should develop firm faith in God. Everyone should render special service to have satisfaction of the soul. Service to man is service to God.

Tagore emphasised cultural subjects in the construction of the curriculum. Provision should also be made for teaching of drawing, painting, dramatic expression, music and dancing.

Co-curricular activities like self-government, social service are also vital for training in citizenship. Various activities like crafts, projects, cultural programmes are also emphasised. Teaching should be only through the mother-tongue.

Tagore believed in dynamic and activity methods of teaching. Teaching methods should be based on the interest, ability and experience of the child. The best method of teaching is teaching while walking.

The static education within the class-room carries only a divorce between the body and the mind without integration. Lectures should be avoided. Democratic healthy atmosphere of school is determines its smooth working.

Only original texts in languages are to be read. Learning should be a joyous adventure. Poetry should be taught from the emotional stand-point. In brief, all emphasis is on self-learning through healthy situations.

The concept of higher education is developed in his Viswa Bharathi, which was an international university. He established it for establishing inter-social amity and understanding and fulfils the highest mission of the present age, its implication of mankind.

The following units are to be remembered Sishu Bhavan (Nursery school) Path Bhavan (Higher school), Shiksha Bhavan (Higher secondary school) Vidya Bhavan (college) Vinaya Bhavan (colleges of Education), Kala Bhavan (Arts school), and Shri Niketan (Rural Institute) Sangeetha Bhavan (music college) Shilpa Bhavan (Industrial institute). China Bhavan (school of Language).

To sum up, Tagore believed in fullness of experience. Education should be in total touch with our complete life, economic, intellectual, aesthetic social and spiritual and educational institution should be in the very heart of our society.

Gandhi :

Gandhi was more a political leader than a philosopher, in the strict sense of the term. His outstanding works are ‘My experiments with truth’ ‘Autobiography’ ‘Commentary’ on the Bhagavad Gita’. He was the editor of journals like ‘Young India’ and Harijan’.

The philosophy of Gandhiji may be summarised as given below:

1. He has absolute Faith in God. For him God is Truth, God is Love, God is Ethics (2) He also had belief in the brotherhood of all living beings. (3) He renounced his lucrative practices as a lawyer and developed the ideal of continual service to his fellow men. (4) He did not believe in any doctrine called ‘Gandhism’ and struggled to establish a spiritual and harmonious society based on love, non-violence, truth, justice and equitable distribution of wealth. He aimed at a co-operative self-sufficient community with harmoniously developed individuals – a well-balanced individual in a well balanced society.

His educational philosophy was the resultant of his educational experiments. His philosophy is characterised as naturalistic in its setting idealistic in its aim and Pragamatic in its method and programme of work. His educational philosophy is also non-violent and practical.

According to Gandhi, the community should be the hub activity. The community-centred activity in the villages should be mainly the craft of the community. Thus he believed in craft-centred activity. The craft should be the central activity around which all the subjects should be correlated.

The Teacher is given a pivotal role but the approach through which the child should be educated is the craft. ‘Correlation’ is the main method emphasised. Manual work was given an honoured place in the curriculum. Test-books were not recommended. Experimentation with a light curriculum was emphasised.

He must be a social worker and an agent for social amelioration and change.

He was for the free growth of the individual in the context of the fast changing society. He believed in ‘democratic citizenship, as an ideal here – that of staying together and group living in a society based on love and equality. Education was essentially a matter of community living.

His scheme of education is known as ‘The Basic National Scheme’. It is more a philosophy a. an ideology rather, than a method of instruction. This scheme has 5 limbs (1) Pre-Basic for children between 5 and 7. (2) Basic school for children between 7 and 14. (3) Post-Basic school for pupils from 14 to 17. (4) Adult Education. (5) Education for social workers and teachers in villages. All these must be well organised for a “Well balanced society with well balanced individuals. The Sarvodaya ideal is the main ideal of a self sufficient co-operative-community.

The Basic school is a special type of school for children between 7 and 14, with the following characteristics: (1) Life-centred activities through crafts. (2) Correlation with a central craft. (3) Freedom for the teacher for experimentation and innovation.

Aurobindo :

Aurobindo was born in Calcutta in 1872. He knew all the Classical languages and Modern European languages and could read ‘Dante’ and ‘Goethe’ in the original. From 1893 to 1906, he served in the service of the State of Baroda serving for sometime as Professor of English.

Later on, resigned his job and went to Calcutta to take part in the National agitation against the partition of Bengal. In 1907, Aurobindo was prosecuted for sedition; it was repeated in 1908 and in 1910. In 1914, he settled down in Pondicherry, and lived there till his death in 1950. He was a keen philosopher, contributing to journals, editing his monthly ‘Arya’ and writing on various subjects and themes.

Aurobindo’s philosophy of life emerged out of his own life education, experiences and though. In his vision of life there is the blend of the oriental and the Western culture, spiritual and material values and science and Vedanta.

His philosophy, also, has certain unique features. According to him there is not only an evolution of forms, but also an evolution of consciousness. The forms are developed and more consciousness developed.

He believed that this evolution of consciousness does not end with mind; rather it extends to greater consciousness called truth consciousness, super-mind, God- consciousness, Dynamic Divine or Super consciousness.

This higher consciousness, gives a possibility of the future emergent evolution of man into superman. According to Aurobindo, Man is conscious of his personality and cannot be, ignorant, simply.

Aurobindo upheld that Integral Education must emphasise the psychic and mental aspects in addition to the physical and mental aspects as denoted by the matter and spirit respectively.

The cultivation of these aspects (1) Beauty (2) Power (3) Knowledge and (4) Love is what he termed as Integral Education. Beauty is to be realised through physical culture. Power is to be related to control sensations. Knowledge helps in developing a mental make-up of an alert mind.

Love is the formation of desirable feelings and emotions, which should be directed towards others and the communion with the Divine.

Aurobindo enunciated three principles of teaching methods. (1) Nothing can be taught by heart. All knowledge is within one’s self and as revealed through the process of “Swadharma” and “Swabhava”. Knowledge is the seed of education, know the self.

The duty of the teacher is to show the child where true knowledge is and how the knowledge can come to the surface. The second principle is that the child should be consulted over his growth; nothing should be imposed from within.

Education should be provided according to the needs of the individual. Thus flexibility, innovation and initiative are extremely essential for natural growth and education of the child. The third principle is that the child should be led from near too far. Our motto should be “from known to the unknown”. Audio-visual materials aid in getting real or stimulated experiences.

An efficient teacher has to shape the environment for the child who must be studied to know his interest, aptitudes, impulses and aspirations. A good teacher is a child, indeed, leading other children and a light kindling the other lights.

Aurobindo emphasised on the following subjects of the curriculum:

(1) Physical Education:

Should have an important place. It should include play, physical training sports, games, gymnastics balanced diet and preventive care.

(2) Vital Education:

Students should be encouraged to participate in music, arts, drama, crafts, ballet etc. Thus life energy can be chanalised through freedom, leadership, responsibility and learning by doing.

(3) Mental Education:

This should be developed through academic studies like languages, mathematics, social sciences, and pure sciences.

(4) Physical and Spiritual Education:

All kinds of curriculum and co-curricular activities should aim at inculcating spiritual and psychic values like, love, truth, faith in God, competence in performance strength of mind and heart.

(5) International Education:

Universal love, sympathy, fellow feeling and understanding are the important characters. His philosophy is lucidly expressed in Auroville or the cities of universal culture, which is a world university centre founded in 1968.

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