Tuesday, 24 July 2018

Sister Nivedita on Education -1

From the National to the International

There is one mistake which our people are constantly making. It concerns the true place of foreign culture in a sound education. The question is continually cropping up, with regard to a hundred different subjects. People think that because we advocate Indian manners, or Indian art, or Indian literature, therefore we condemn European; because we preach an Eastern ideal, we despise a Western. Not so. Such a position would ill become those who have taken on their lips, however undeservingly and falteringly, the great names of Ramakrishna Paramahamsa and Vivekananda. Interchange of the highest ideals— never their contrasting, to the disadvantage of either— was the motto of our great Captain, and the wisdom of this ought to be easily set forth.

Every branch of culture—be it manners, art, letters, science, or what not—has two stages, that of development and that of emancipation, of the required faculty. Through a severe cultivation in the manners of our own people, we acquire gentlehood, and express this refinement through any civilization to which, later, we may have to adapt ourselves. No woman can become a gentlewoman of any type, if her ancestors have not attained such inner control, such courtesy, such refinement, in whatever environment belonged to them. Only with infinite difficulty can we raise ourselves above the level of our past though we may express that past in an infinite number of new ways.

But it is only through the thoroughly-understood that we can reach our highest development of faculty. Our language, our literature, our ideals, are all part and parcel of the same thing out of which springs our system of manners. One emphasizes and elucidates the other. One is concurrent with the other. All make in the same direction. Taken all together, they carry us to points of observation and degrees of discrimination that without their help we could not have reached.