By Dr Jyots Bhattacharjee
Goddess Saraswati arrived in the city with great fanfare on the 22th January, riding her magnificent swan. Her timing was very propitious, as she arrived just before the examitions were held, to bless the student community. The examinees wait eagerly for her arrival, as they need her help urgently at this season. Apparently the Goddess understands the sentiments of the students. She is the Goddess of learning and for the students her help and blessings are very necessary to cross the hurdle of examition. That is why the examinees fervently wait for her arrival, and for her puja. For them the worship of the Goddess Saraswati will ensure their success in the examition. They believe that even if they are not well-prepared, the Goddess would surely eble them to pass the examition with her blessings. For the young students Saraswati Puja is a short-cut to success.
The student community of the city performed Saraswati Puja on the 22nd January with great enthusiasm and merriment. The weather was particularly kind and it helped in making the puja a very happy occasion. The morning was the time for offering “puspanjali” (Floral offering) at the feet of the Goddess, and the evening was meant for pandal-hopping in gorgeous dresses. I sympathize with these young students in their hour of need.
Goddess Saraswati comes every year in this season, that is, just before the examitions commence. So the time is particularly opportune for her arrival, as the students greatly need her blessings at this time. The students turally welcome her with fervour. On the day of the puja they looked very attractive in their finery. The little girls looked delightful in their colourful saris or mekhela chadars. Most of the little boys wore kurta-pyjamas. For them it was a day of joy, when they were not supposed to attend classes and learn lessons. It was a holiday from books and it was also a day for being happy and eat delicious food. In most of the schools the students were served with khichri, vegetable curry, sweets, besides “prasada” of grams and fruits. In some schools the guardians also enjoyed the mid-day meal.
Saraswati Puja was performed in most of the schools and colleges in the city. The atmosphere was full of gaiety and piety. It seems that in this age Saraswati Puja is not confined to the educatiol institutions. She is a very popular deity and her puja is performed in various shops and other establishments as well. And why not? Saraswati is the Goddess of learning. So to maintain accounts correctly and to calculate profit and loss you need her blessings—don’t you? Hence her puja is performed in some banks and other fincial establishments. Hence for success in any business or in any profession the help and the blessing of Goddess of Saraswati is indispensable. Therefore Saraswati Puja has wide application, covering every field of enterprise.
The students in the city performed the puja with great enthusiasm and hilarity and I sincerely hope that the Goddess was pleased with the students and blessed them before her departure. Actually the young people often forget that they are merely students and not some die-hard politicians. After spates of bandhs, strikes, dhars and other forms of agitations, they suddenly wake up to find that the examitions are only weeks away. The Saraswati Puja in fact makes the sigl that the time to get into the study table has arrived. And then it is time to make frantic search for notes, guide books and probable questions.
The present education system takes my mind centuries back to the ancient era, when there was the system of “guru-sishya parampara”. The boys after a certain age were sent to the hermitage of some guru, where they learnt everything necessary for leading a successful and happy moral life. The hermitages in that age, as we learn from the ancient texts, were the centres of education, which comprised diverse subjects, necessary for a successful life style. In these centres of learning the disciples learnt everything from manual work to warfare to sastras (scriptures)
They also learnt about spiritualism, morality and the path to liberation. The disciples stayed in the ashram for the entire period of student life. The “guru” and the “gurumata” treated them as their own children. The disciples also venerated them and obeyed them in every matter without question. The words of the guru and the gurumata were divine commands for them. They could not even dream of disobeying them. They had to do all the manual work as well and that was to prepare them for the future. The gurus taught them all the things necessary for leading a successful and spiritual life. But now gone are the glorious days of the ancient era. That close relation between the preceptor and the disciples no longer exists.
Time does not remain static. It is a dymic process which passes from the past to the present to the future. This modern age is vastly different from the ancient era. It is very true that in this scientific age the old custom of guru-sishya parampara is not feasible. Today the situation is entirely different. In the past the number of the pupils was limited, but in the present era there are many students in a class room, where lessons are taught for a particular period of time. Still I believe that today also a persol rapport between the teachers and students is very necessary to make teaching-learning process successful. But it can be noticed that no such relation exists between the teacher and the taught. The teacher goes to the class room and teaches the students mechanically for the allotted time. There is no persol bond of love between them. In fact, the teachers may not know the mes of half of their students. The students also have no respect for the teachers. If they happen to see some teacher elsewhere they look the other way. They try to avoid the teacher as far as practicable.
You really cannot blame the students for the sorry state of education, rather blame the academic atmosphere and our mechanical education system. Educatiol institutes have become centres of politics and intrigue. For the entire session the students get involved in diverse activities except the one, which should have been their primary objective, that is education. The lure of power and money misguide them. Hence they forget all about books and lessons. When the examition approaches they suddenly become aware of the books and the neglected lessons and consequently they become nervous and apprehensive.
Even school students are getting more interested in diverse entertainment programmes and less in their lessons. Extracurricular activities are necessary, but not to the extent that they neglect their books. After they pass the examitions and attain their goal, they may of course dabble in politics or in anything they like. And with television supplying the youths with the staple food of villainy, crimes, romance, fighting and all that hotchpotch every day, our children are no longer interested in dull subjects like mathematics, science, literature etc. Who would like to get confined to the study table, while television is offering such large doses of entertainment?
I may be old-fashioned, but I really think that television has done lots of harm to the young people. I am not saying that all the programmes are bad. There are some very good educative programmes. But young people apparently are not interested in Discovery channel or other channels which present good shows. They are interested only in feature films, crimes and other shows like that, which are not good for the children. There was a time when television was non-existent. We never knew about it and we never felt the need about it. It was only tural. You cannot want something about which you know nothing. In that era the children knew nothing about television and turally there was nothing to divert their minds from the study table.
This is the scientific age and science has contributed a lot for the welfare of humanity. But every good thing has something bad in it. Television presents entertainment, but it has also harmed the young minds with some infelicitous presentations. The mobile phone has helped us in maintaining contact with people anywhere anytime. But I hear that it has also caused lots of harm to the youths. The problem is that in this scientific age people have become materialists and they have lost morality and spiritualism. That is the cause of all our problems and unhappiness. Students have forgotten their duty and obligation.
I do hope that Goddess Saraswati instilled some good sense in the minds of the young students. The day of the puja was very joyous and happy. The bright ad shining faces of the children and the young people made everyone happy. Now the Puja is over and the Goddess of Learning has departed to her Heavenly abode. We sincerely hope that Goddess Saraswati had blessed the students before her departure from the earth. Now it is time for the students to study hard in order to cross the hurdles of examition. They must remember that time and tide wait for no man and the examition is approaching very fast. Besides hard labour, self-confidence is very necessary for a person to succeed and I do hope that the students have enough confidence in themselves. They should get rid of their nervousness and fear from their minds and face the examition boldly with confidence. Then they would certainly do very well in the examition. They should also understand that mere worshipping of the Goddess would not bring the desired result. The Goddess would help only those who help themselves. They must make the effort to do well. All my best wishes are with them. May the Goddess Saraswati bless you, dear examinees. Best of luck to all of you.