the philosophy of Narayana Guru on present education

            by justice B.S.A Swamy (Retd.)



 At the outset, let me express my thanks to the organisers of this conference which is being held as a part of platinum Jubilee celebration of Sivagiri Thirdhadanam  for giving me an opportunity to speak on the philosophy of Narayana Guru on education, in the present context of deterioration of the values in education on all fronts. Starting from Buddha all the social reformers having realized that the sufferences of teeming millions of people in this country is mainly due to illiteracy, ignorance and superstitious beliefs practiced by them, emphasized the need of imparting value based quality education to all. In the modern India, starting from the first social reformer Mahathma Jyothi Rao Phule, Narayana Guru, Ambedkar and Periyar followed suit and dedicated their lives for emancipation of the working class who through their sweat and hard labour produce the wealth of the country but subjected to victimization and  exploitation by the vested interests in this country. When Narayana Guru was born, majority of the population of Kerala were treated as untouchables and were denied of human rights and condemned to live in poverty and humiliation. The Chaturvarna system was followed scrupulously and Swamy Vivekananda described Kerala society as a “Lunatic Asylum”. Narayana Guru could not assimilate the social order prevailing at the time of his birth and raised the banner of revolt against the advice of his parents and other relatives, left the house in search of solace to his mind, ultimately to the forest. Having gone into meditation for years he realized that all human beings are born alike and a few clever people divided the working class into various castes and sub-castes and made them to serve as slaves by denying education, spirituality and decent way of life. Even temple entry was prohibited to them on the ground of un-touchability. He also realized that these barricades are man made and he should fight the inhuman practices imposed by upper castes. In that direction he propounded the philosophy of one caste, one religion and one god for a man. He consecrated more than 60 temples for sudras and atisudras. This action of Guru shook the foundations of orthodoxy which were built up and nurtured by the priestly class for over ages. He worked for the emancipation of these sections of people through education on social front. He evolved three major formulae in that direction 1. Freedom through education 2. Strength through organization 3. Economic independence through industries. The very fact that he consecrated Sarada Devi temple at the religious headquarters, Sivagiri shows the importance he has given to education. To carryout the renaissance movement on social front through massive educational programmes he formed S.N.D.P(Sree Narayana Dharma Paripalana ) Yogam . The units of S.N.D.P were formed in all villages and primary education was made compulsory for the followers of Guru. Each unit was directed to maintain a School and a Library. Apart from that the S.N.D.P used to conduct series of lectures throughout Kerala to teach the common man, the importance of education, health, hygiene, morality, economy and industry.




The emergence of Narayana Guru on spiritual and social front in the erstwhile Trivancore State electrified the entire society and the down-trodden sections of the people who never enjoyed civilized life in any form till then started to fight for their rightful existence in the society through non violence movement. Infact, within a span of 40 years, the societal setup has undergone a sea change and the Keralites now stood first in all walks of human life, in particular in the field of education.


            Coming to present societal scenario  Dr. B.R.Ambedkar having realized that without educating the teeming millions of people who live in abject poverty the democratic form of Government that the  country has chosen, looses its value and one man one rule remains a myth. Hence incorporated Articles 45 and 46 in the Directive Principles of State Policy in that direction . While Article 45 postulates uniform free and compulsory education to all the children of this country up to the age of 14 years with in a period of 10 years from the commencement of the constitution, Under Article 46 of the constitution a duty is cast on the state to promote educational and economic interests of Scheduled Castes, Scheduled Tribes and other Weaker Sections of the people and to protect them from social injustices and all forms of exploitation. After the advent of the constitution, the ruling class, having felt that the colonial system of education is not suited to this country, decided to reorient the educational system in order to suit the changing needs and aspirations of the people, as education is also regarded as a potential tool for the social change and national development. Accordingly several Committees were appointed, many a time by the Central Government. Almost all the Committees uniformly felt that there is an urgent need for introducing uniform value based education for improving the quality of life at all levels from primary level to higher education. Every time on the basis of the recommendations of those committees the Central Government was coming up with a National Educational Policy. But the ruling class was not prepared to implement the policy propounded by them as they will not have the opportunity of serving the teeming millions of people if these people start asserting their share in the governance of the country after getting themselves educated. In such an event people who constitute less than 15% of the population and who are at the helm of affairs, be political, be executive, be administration of justice have to vacate their seats and the will of the majority of the people of this country will rule the roost. The last National Policy on education was propounded in the year 1986 by the Central Government where in stress was laid on uniform education from primary level, and the same should be implemented within ten years thereafter. But that ten years period is being extended from time to time without any attempt to achieve the goals set out in the policy. On the other hand, the sovereign function of the State to impart education to all its citizens as human energy is considered to be a national wealth, the ruling class of this country has taken a round about turn and commercialized the education by opening star educational shoppies. Before adverting to the aspect of how the ruling class is denying the basic minimum education to the common man, I would like to refer to some of the salient features of the education policy of 1986 under the Chairmanship of late P.V.Narasimha Rao the then Union Minister for Human Resources Development on 27th and 28th of 1986 who later became the Prime Minister of this country. The resolutions adopted at that conference were “ There was complete agreement on National system of education and on giving priority to eradication of Illiteracy, Universalization of elementary education and Vocationalization of education …………”


  Para 13:- That the new thrust in elementary education should emphasize the aspects (i) Universal Enrollment and Universal retention of children up to 14 years of age and substantial improvement in the quality of education.

 Para 3.8:- In our culturally plural society the values that are to be fostered through education should have a universal appeal, and should be oriented towards the unity and integration of our people.




In Para 3.2 The concept of a National System of Education implies that, up to a given level, all students, irrespective of caste, creed, location or sex, have access to education of a comparable quality. To achieve this, the Government will initiate appropriately funded programmes. Effective measures will be taken in the direction of the Common School System recommended in the 1968 Policy.


 Para 3.6 To promote equality, it will be necessary to provide equal opportunity to all not only in access, but also in the conditions for success. Besides, awareness of the inherent equality of all be created through the core curriculum. The purpose is to remove prejudices and complexes transmitted through the social environment and the accident of birth.


The spirit and content of this resolution was accepted in the World Conference on Education for all held on 05-02-1990 at Jomtien Thailand in the following terms.  


     Article 3-4 :- An active commitment must be made to remove educational disparities. Un deserved groups – the poor, street and working children; Rural and remote populations; nomads and migrant workers, indigenous peoples, ethnic, racial and linguistic minorities, refugees, those displaced by war; and people under occupation - should not suffer any discrimination in access to learning opportunities.


            In the light of the above National Policy on Education we have to consider what is meant by value based education. Value education teaches us to preserve our culture, heritage, practices, whatever is good and worth while in what we have inherited from our culture, apart from helping us to accept and respect the attitude and behaviour of others who differ from us. Value education does not mean value imposition or indoctrination. Values in general can be classified under 5 headings. (1) personal (2) social (3) moral 4) spiritual and 5) behavioural. While the personal values relate to the values cherished by an individual like ambition, contentment, courage, determination, honesty, self confidence, and simplicity etc., Social Values are concerned to the society. Social values are always practiced in relation to our neighbours, community, society, nation and the world. These values are likely to undergo changes as the changes that take place in the society. Moral values are referable to an individual character and personality confirming what is right and virtuous. Spiritual values relates to devotion to God in various forms. Behaviour values relate to good manners that are needed to make one’s life successful and fruitful. Moral education in its broad sense includes not only inculcation of moral and ethical values but also spiritual, humanistic, scientific, aesthetic and sporting values. Thus comprehensively moral education means value oriented education. Though the National Policy on Education emphasized on the role of value education to eliminate obscurantism, religious fantacism, violence, superstition and fatalism, it was also commended that primary emphasis has to be laid on the inculcation of positive thinking based on heritage, national goals and universal perceptions. But unfortunately, majority of the educational institutions failed to impart value based and moral education for an integrated development of human personality and made the people to give importance to the material aspects of life and western culture leaving our own values and systems that were developed over centuries knowing fully well that a life without proper values will be a chaotic one and disastrous. Infact the unruly behaviour, crime and violence and deceitfulness that are fast taking roots among the student community both in the precincts of the educational institutions and out side ,  is the direct result of the educational curricula which is neither value based nor moral oriented.


Added to this falling of ethical values and moral standards in the country , the mushroom growth of varieties of educational institutions contributed their mite in successfully diverting the mind of the people from the age old human values , irrespective of their religious faith . The constitutional goal of free and compulsory uniform value based education to all the children up to the age of 14 years, reiterated by all the committees remained illusory. On the other hand all efforts are being made by the ruling elite to keep away the vast majority sections of people from education itself leave apart value based quality education.


            According to me, while primary education is considered as roots, the secondary education as the trunk and the collegiate education as branches of a tree, since the syllabi up to 10th class would be the same except little variations, to exploit and encash the middle class mentality by giving different nomenclatures to the same studies and the real specialization as per the choice of the pupil (in India, the parents) starts for settlement of his career in life over the years. But unfortunately as on today there are as many as eight types of schools functioning in the country which is quite contrary to the constitutional mandate. 1) Public Schools (I.S.I Standard) 2) Residential Schools 3) Convent Schools 4) Ashram Schools 5) Navodaya Schools 6) Kendriya Vidyalayas 7) C.B.S.E Schools 8) Adult Education. In Government schools the medium of instruction is in regional languages without English and the Public Examinations are being held at 7th class and 10th class.  In private educational institutions the medium of instruction is only in English followed  by weekly , bi weekly, monthly , quarterly , half-yearly and annual examinations . Even if the child gets some less mark in weekly tests, the Management directs the parents to take away the child from their school there by making the child to mug up the subject or indulge in mass copying than molding him as an enlightened soul.


 Infact the Courts too, did not lag behind in throwing the education system to shambles. Firstly to my mind, a combined reading of Articles 28,29 and 30 of the Constitution of India gives an impression that the Minorities are allowed to establish educational institutions to protect their language  , script or culture and to conserve the same . But unfortunately the Supreme Court held that minorities are also entitled to establish secular educational institutions and the reason given by them was that in future, the majority may deny them admission in the secular educational institutions. The reason given by the Supreme Court is a far fetched one and do not stand to reason in the light of the constitutional provisions guaranteeing equality before law and equal protection to all before law . The Courts further held that the Government cannot have any control over the administration of the minority educational institutions except prescribing the educational curriculum and to grant affiliation for purpose of holding examinations. Such Judgments came handy to the unscrupulous elements and they exploited the spirit underlying the judgments to saturation point. As on today most of the educational institutions established and maintained by the minorities, only the students belonging to majority community are receiving education rather than the students belonging to that minority, by spending huge monies towards capitation, tuition fees and other fees.


Added to this, the Supreme Court opened flood gates by permitting privatization and commercialization of the education. Everyone knows that most of the private educational institutions that sprang up after this judgment neither have proper infrastructure nor teaching faculties. The controlling agencies like NCTE and AICTE etc institutionalized corruption in the name of periodical inspections by the so called experts in the field and the result is that there is a nose dive in the standards of education that is being imparted in these educational institutions. Though the students may get a Degree or a Diploma they do not have the command over the subject or they know anything about the course they studied. While this is the position with regard to private institutions, the government educational institutions from university down below the village educational institutions, are starving for funds and most of the institutions are being run without teaching staff, leave apart qualified teaching staff and infrastructure. To augment their finances, the universities started introducing self finance courses. 


As the universities are not imparting education in undergraduate courses, those students are deprived of teaching by qualified and more experienced research scholars.   Last  but not the least , the universities have become hot bed for politics and the teaching staff as well as students are divided on sectarian lines directly under the nose of vice-chancellor and bringing down the reputation of the universities as institutions of learning . The U.G.C has no control over  the research guides and scholars except giving stipend   to the scholars  there by  the quality  in research work has taken a nose dive and the Ph.D’s  that are being awarded have become a farce. With the result, the so called post graduates and graduates that are being produced by these ill equipped educational institutions are not able to face the ever challenging needs of the fast changing society due to globalization and economic reforms.



            Nextly , the ruling elite  with a view to  have control over the material resources of this country  hatched  a  new plan of opening educational institutions  by spending crores and crores of  rupees of public money  and are refusing to implement rule of reservations by contending that they are institutes of excellence .  This very fact itself prove that our ruling elite themselves are admitting that other educational institutions are not maintaining excellent standards in imparting education.


The net result is that the students studying either in private or government educational institutions  are deprived of quality education leave apart moral and value based education.


Hence, it is high time that all well meaning persons should start their own educational institutions to develop integrated human being with moral and ethical values than depending upon ruling elite who are bent upon treating us as animals so that they can successfully continue their hegemony.  I am happy that wherever the disciples of Narayana Guru are there, they are starting and maintaining educational institutions par excellence with the other educational institutions in imparting value based education to the children and thus translating the dreams of their guru, a reality.


Following the judgment of the Supreme Court in Unni Krishnan case, constitution was amended and Article 21 A was introduced to the effect that receiving education is a fundamental right of a citizen and as per the interpretation given by the Supreme Court on Article 21 right to life does not mean animal existence but a meaningful existence with all human values. We have to fight the ruling elite by initiating litigation in courts seeking implementation of the constitutional mandate i.e. free compulsory universal primary education for all. Otherwise the vested interests will continue to have their hegemony over the affairs of the state in all walks of life.


Let all of us dedicate to the ideals and philosophy of Sri Narayana Guru and try to build a new social order where in all the citizens are treated alike.







Justice B.S.A Swamy

Former Judge, High Court of A.P


Executive President


Editor- in- Chief