Sunday, October 2, 2011

Unearthing the treasure within !

Acharyah school children - talent exhibition.

“Who was the mastermind behind the establishment of the now world renowned and prestigious Indian Institute of Science? Was it the most radical thinking rationalistic scientists of yesteryear? Was it the most dynamic and influential politicians of the freedom era? Or was it the British men hailing from the Cradle of Industrial civilization and the self-proclaimed birth place of science? No, it was none of these men. It was none other than the man clad in saffron robe, the man who had renounced materialism. It was the man, in a foreign land, who stood before a congregation of people from various ethnic, religious and cultural backgrounds and addressed them all as brothers and sisters plunging them into pin drop silence and awe. It was Swamy Vivekananda” exclaimed Gomathi, the Senior Educator of Acharyah school, in her inaugural speech of the Annual Parent Teachers meeting of Acharyah School held on 3rd September at the premises of the school.

Jamsetji N. Tata, the famous industrialist, happened to travel with Vivekananda by chance from Japan to Chicago and their meeting left an indelible impression in the mind of Tata. The spiritual aura of Swamy Vivekananda and his extraordinary view of Science wafted through the heart of Tata and he decided to set up the Indian Institute of Science under the aegis of the Swamy.

A view that has seeped into our heart from childhood is that Science and Religion are aeons apart and would never see each other even if they accidentally bump into one another. These views can prevail only due to double ignorance. The ignorance of both Science and Religion. Swamy Vivekananda is just one example to thwart this blissful ignorance. Our Indian history abounds with eminent persons who have journeyed through the ocean of Science and religion knowing them to be two rivers that confluence to form one ocean.

Spirituality and science are so closely knit that it needs great effort to see them separately and more so treat them as mutually exclusive topics. A leader needs great spirit, a grand vision, broad mindedness with no boundaries. A spiritual man essentially possesses these qualities and even more. And hence he suits the role of leader far more than others. Even for being successful in science, a spiritual bent of mind is quintessential. The study science in the light of spiritualism deepens the understanding of science and would throw a very unique perspective on science.

The above address of Gomathi was followed by the Principals address. She wanted the children to showcase their learning in front of their parents. A kind of talent exhibition was conducted. The children doing their second year at Acharyah exhibited their knowledge of Shabdas. Shabdas need lot of effort to memorize and recall. But for the Acharyah school students, it seemed like a breeze. One after the other, the children happily recalled the shabdas they learnt.

Next, the children, hardly 5 years of age, were adept in writing 4 digit numbers . It is to be remembered that in normal school setup, children write four digit numbers at a far later stage. The credit wholly goes to the system of teaching and the complete dedication of the teachers involved.

The parents were baffled at the way these children had mastered whatever they were taught.

After the Principals address it was the turn of the Founder Acharyah, Sri Parasara Badrinarayana to address the gathering .The thought provoking words of Swamy left the audience speechless.

The Founder Acharya focused on the traits these children have inherited from the ‘Acharyah ancestry’. We often ask this question either by self or are asked by others ; whether we plan to spend our life in loukikam or sampradayam ? We instantly reply ‘both’ as though we have been formally trained in the art of jugglery. But we have never been able to do justice to sampradayam. Either we get wedded to the back ache causing computer chair at office or get ourselves embroiled in family affairs that need our least attention. Thus the time we spend for sampradayam turns miniscule. But our longing for spending lot of time on sampradayam is not untrue. It is true in every sense. But the fact is our web of samsaram is seldom allowing us to venture outside its fringes.

The children of Acharyah have proved this ‘fact’ accepted by us wrong. Every day these children are mastering both the loukeeka skills and simultaneously imbibing all Sampradaic knowledge. If languages are taken these children are learning Sanskrit at lightening pace. Amarakosham meaning ‘immortal treasure’ contains the instructions concerning nouns and gender in the form of verses. This work forms a base for mastering Sanskrit. And the Acharyah school students can pop out verses as though they were rhymes. Panini, the father of Sanskrit Grammar, has made Sutras( Grammatical rules) which are very quite tough to master but are very important in the process of understanding sakskrit. The sutras are tongue twisters are enunciating them requires immense practice. The Acharyah school children, hardly 5 years old, keep singing the sutras like songs and are slowly gaining mastery over them.

When is comes to loukeeka academics, these children once again glitter brightly. They can locate places in the world map with ease. A 3 year girls mother was very happy in expressing that one night her child told she’ll write rhyming words at 8pm. The family thought the girl would write two three words and waited for her to commence. But the girl ended up writing 30 rhyming words!

Acharyah has taught the children discipline and thirst for knowledge. When a persons is dunked in water for a long time, he would come out gasping for air. His mind would be yearning for air. No other thought would even for a second enter his mind. The pursuit of knowledge should be exactly the same. The Acharyah school children are in this pursuit now.

All the parents felt that they never ask their children to study at home nor do homework. These children love studying and hence start studying, writing and experimenting with the subjects. Acharyah has implanted in them this devotion to the subject. The reason for all this is the spiritual knowledge that gets passed on to the children everyday.

The young petals of Acharyah are watered with Sampradaya knowledge everyday. Acharyah has customized the Montessori methodology of teaching to suit our culture. The children have attuned themselves to cater to the Sampradaic form of life and rise to the occasion when their loukeeka skills are in need.

Apart from all the above mentioned learnings, there is one trait that Acharyah wants the children to never lose. The children already possess it. But like us, with age and with the pollution of mind, they shouldn’t change. It is the pristine quality of praying to Emperumaan keeping the prayer and Emperumaan’s well being as its end. As children, we too went to temples and simply prayed, admired and loved Him. The prayer was the end, never a means to something. With adulthood came the habit of ‘ asking’ , ‘demanding’ emperumaan for things absolutely material or leading to a material gain. With age withered away our wisdom. Going to the temple started assuming reasons other than worshipping His divya mangala vigraham and praying for His good. The children of Acharyah would reach the zenith of success in life but stay children when praying to Him. In other words, they would retain the purity of childhood. Even if Acharyah doesn’t make these children “the best” in all fields of life, it will endeavour to keep their mental purity intact.

The Founder Acharya quoted the example of a 5 year old Acharyah school child who visited Kanchipuram and stood in front of Devadhi rajan and instantly recited ‘Devaraja Ashtakam’ composed by Kanchi- Poorna ( Thirukkachi Nambigal), the dearest and intimate Bhaktha of Devadhi Rajan. This Acharya ( Kanchi Poorna) was in the Kainkaryam of fanning the Lord every night. The Lord would enjoy this Kainkaryam and enter into a breezy conversation with Shri Kanchi Poorna. Such was their intimacy.

This child of Acharyah did not know what benefits he would get if he recited Devaraja Ashtakam. He did not know if he would shine in his studies, he did not know if he would get a new toy, he did not know if he would be showered with chocolates. He had been taught that reciting Devaraja Ashtakam would please Lord. That alone prompted the child to do so.

The Founder Acharyah, with great emotion declared that all the children of Acharyah would never shed this learning for the rest of their lives. In the instant case, the Archakar swamy at Lord Varadaraja’s sannidhi asked the child to come close to the Lord , handed him the divine fan and asked him to do Thiru aalavatta kainkaryam( fanning kainkaryam performed by Kanchi Poorna) ! Purely the blessing of Paerarulalan!

For the Children of Acharyah, life insurance cover or medical insurance is not the protection. The children are growing under the soft and caressing fingers of Srirenganachiar. What protection can those insurance covers offer than the shield of immeasurable love and compassion offered by Srirenganachiar? This shield shall protect these children even from the dreadful clutches of Karma. This shield will prevent emperumaan to punish them if at all they transgress any of His injunctions. The children would ever bask in the joy of possessing this shield than any of the bronze or metallic shields they may fetch in future for their loukeeka achievements. And Acharyah shall ever endeavour to fetch this shield for every child from the divine Lamp (Srirenganachiar) that keeps Srirengam in glitter and also ensure that they value this shield more than anything else in life.

History reveals that many of the educationalists, philosophers and spiritualists considered Bharatha desham as their destiny for seeking knowledge in their respective fields. Maria Montessori, the founder of Montessori system of education visited India, spent time here in understanding our culture, tradition and our system of education. She went back rich with the knowledge of India’s way of education and incorporated it in her system of education. Thus what we teach today as a very effective foreign system of education is nothing but our ancestral property which had changed hands and has finally come back to us. This wouldn’t have happened had we kept our old education system intact.

All the institutions under Srimaan Trust run under the graceful eyes of Periya Perumal and Periya pirattiayar. What the Trust and Acharyah has achieved had never occurred even in our dreams . Periya Perumal has just used all of us( Srimaan Trust volunteers, the parents and donors) as an instrument in achieving his wish. We should all pray at His delicate feet that He uses us to the fullest extent in achieving his wish. That is the only way we can satisfy Him.

The children of Acharyah shine today like diamonds emanating immense radiance. The treasure within them has been unearthed by the krupai of Srirenganathan. Let us pray the Divya –dampathis that their glitter increases manifold in the years to come and let their contribution to Sampradayam be unmeasurable.

The parents were deeply moved by the views of the Founder Acharyah and prayed Emperumaan that Acharyah gets a new and bigger premise for accommodating children in near future. The Trust fervently hopes their prayers are heard by Periya Perumal and Srirenganachiar.

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