Saturday, 21 July 2018

Sister Nivedita on Education

Creative Knowledge

It is not the amount of a man's reading, but the amount of his thinking, that marks the degree at which his education has arrived. Thought, thought, thought, the struggle for new thought, every moment spent in the endeavour, this is the path. And for this, the interchange of thought is necessary. And if the area of interchange is to be widened adequately, we must deliberately seek to lift new minds in to it. We must become missioners of thought, missioners of knowledge, apostles of education, sent to one another. Each of us who receives a definite schooling, might try to share something of what he has gained with two others in his home who have not received it. It is little by little, brick by brick, that the greatest of cities grows up.

Indian boys might read the books of Charles Kingsley, if they would catch a glimpse of what educated man in a city, eager to share his knowledge, could do. Charles Kingsley was one of the clergy of Chester Cathedral, and he gathered round him a little club of working men, who, on their Saturday afternoon holidays, would tramp with him, all over the country, collecting plants and botanizing, or selecting objects for the microscope. An old watchmaker in Chester afterwards became a famous botanist, through the start given him by Charles Kingsley, on those Saturday afternoons!

A few peeps of the same kind may be caught in the pages of Mrs. Humphrey Ward's Novel, Robert Elsmere. We have here a fine picture of the English Country Clergyman, who is striving to scatter, to distribute the knowledge that has been imparted to him, with so much trouble and expense, without any merit on his part.

And is it not clear that this is one of the highest of social duties? If it be a duty to distribute food, if it be a duty to help the sick and wounded, is it not ten times a duty to carry to those who have not yet enjoyed it, the lamp of knowledge, that their days may be made a delight, and their lives a power?

In this process, the ringleaders are of course the innumerable workers all over the country, at vernacular literature. In the magazine, in the village-school, in the home, amongst the women, the work is being done. But let us intensify it. Let us remember that knowledge is a religion, that privilege is an apostolate, that true conviction is aggressive, that Churches grow. Let us realize that the supreme necessity is to express modern knowledge in the vernaculars. And Mother grant that we pour strong true thought therewith into the cup of our people's minds, knowledge gained by the heart, and speaking straight to the heart. For this alone is knowledge, and it is knowledge, and not mere information, that makes us great!

 

Reproduced from the Prabuddha Bharata, November, 1907.