Saturday, 28 July 2018

Sister Nivedita on Education of Indian Women - 3

This new knowledge, however, in a truly great woman, will modify every action. Before yielding blindly to prejudice, she will now consider the direction in which that prejudice is working. If she indulges her natural feeling, will it tend to the establishment in India of nobler ideals, or will it merely make for social vanity, and meaningless restrictions? Even the finest of women may make mistakes in the application of these new principles. But honest mistakes lead to knowledge and correct themselves.

The education of woman then is still, as it always was, a matter of developing the heart, and making the intellect efficient as servant, not as lord. The nobility of the will is the final test of culture, and the watch-towers of the will are in the affections.

We must think strongly about education. We must know what are its highest results. Let us suppose that a girl learns to read and write, and spends her whole time afterwards over sensational novels. The fact is, that girl, in spite of her reading and writing, remains uneducated. Reading and writing are nothing in themselves. She has not learnt how to choose her reading. She is uneducated, whatever be her nationality. That many Western people, both men and women, are uneducated in this deepest and best sense, is proved by the character of common railway-bookstall periodicals. Education in reality means training of the will.

It is not enough to render the will noble : it ought also to be made efficient if the true educational ideal is to be attained; and it is this latter clause which necessitates our schooling in many branches of knowledge and activity. But efficiency without nobility is worse than useless; it is positively destructive. Infinitely better, nobility without efficiency; the moral and ideal preparation for life, without any acquaintance with special processes. Let India never tamper with the place that the Mahabharata and the Ramayana hold in the households of the simple. Her own passionate love of Sita and Savitri is woman's best education. Her overflowing admiration for Bhishma, for Yudhisthira, for Karna, is the wife's best offering, and the mother's best schooling, to the manhood of the home.