PLANNING THE WORK
...There should be, to begin with, a thorough education in the vernacular, next Sanskrit, then English, science, history, mathematics, geography. And to this, work with the hands: sewing, embroidery, spinning, cooking, nursing, anything in the way of indigenous handicraft. While all Western knowledge, including science, must be given a place, Indian ideals and Indian traditions must always be held sacred. Education will come by the assimilation of the greatest ideas of the East and of the West. Any kind of education which undermines the faith of the Indian woman in the past culture of her race, its religion and traditions, is not only useless but detrimental. She had better be left as she is. Mathematics must become a discipline for the mind, a training in accuracy and truth, history a practice in tracing effects to their causes, a warning against repetition of the mistakes of the past. The emancipation of women meant to him a freedom from limitations, which should disclose their real power.
The old methods of education in the West concern themselves only with the mind, its training, its discipline. To this, certain facts relating to history, literature, science, geography, and languages were added. This is a very limited conception. Man is not a mind only. Why not build up a new education based upon the true nature of man? When a new Light comes into the world, it must illumine all aspects of life. If man is divine now, education must be an uncovering of the knowledge already in man? "Education is the manifestation of the perfection already in man," he said.
Let us try a new experiment. At this crucial time when it becomes necessary to review the whole subject, let us break away from some of the old traditions of education. Let us build upon a broader conception, larger aims. Not only must Indian women be highly educated, but a few at least should be of outstanding intellect — the intellectual peers of any women in the world — their flame of spirituality set aglow by the Great Light which has illumined the world in these modern times. They should be on fire, renunciation and service should be their watchwords. A few such women could solve the problems of the women of India, In the past, women made the supreme sacrifice for a personal end. Are there not a few now who will devote heart, mind, and body for the greater end? "Give me a few men and women who are pure and selfless," Swamiji would say, "and I shall shake the world!" No man can do this work. It must be done by women alone. On this point he was stern. "Am I a woman that I should solve the problems of women? Hands off! They can solve their own problems." This was consistent with his unbounded faith in the power and greatness latent in all women. "Every woman is part of the Divine Mother, the embodiment of Shakti (Divine Energy)," he believed. This Shakti must be roused. If woman's power is often for evil rather than for good, it is because she has been oppressed; but she will rouse the lion in her nature when her fetters drop. She has suffered throughout the ages. This has given her infinite patience, infinite perseverance.