The question of imparting religious and moral instruction to students in schools and colleges has Engaged the attention of educationists for years but no practical solution of the problem has, yet, been found out. The pity is that everyone, even those who are in authority and are competent to unravel the knot, speak no end of the necessity of imparting moral education to the youngsters in view of their growing tendency to indulge in violence and despicable deeds. One wonders who should take the initiative to resolve the controversy that has done immense harm to us. It has prevented us from having an ethical basis for education. It is true that ours is a multi-religious society with innumerable schisms and sects. It is not that easy to keep a country united in the midst of diversity of thought and religion. The question whether religious and moral instruction can be imparted within the famework of our constitution is a ticklish one which needs utmost care and deep consideration. Notwithstanding the complexity of problem, we feel that the question of moral instruction is non-controversial if it is viewed from an unbiased angle.
We have accepted ‘secularism’ as our ideal . But it appears that the word ‘secularism’ is being interpreted wrongly. It only means that morality and education should not be based on religion. Late Dr. Radhakrishnan the former President of India, who had examined the issue when he headed the Education Commission after independence suggested at one stage that the word ‘secularism be replaced by ‘non sectarianism. His suggestion embodies his deep wisdom and prudence. If the Govt. of India had incorporated it in the constitution, it would have been easy for the educationists to arrive at a consensus regarding the question of the inclusion of moral instruction in school curriculum as its integral part.
Acharya Tulsi like many other leading thinkers of the country is of the view that moral instruction should be given compulsorily to students in schools. If the students are made aware of the basic standards of good behaviour that contribute to the growth of a balanced, unbiased and independent personality coupled with boldness to face the challenge of the times, they will tend to behave with decency and decorum.
The main controversy that has impeded a unanimous solution so far is that if moral instruction is imparted formally in schools, it will spark off widespread communal tension. But Acharya Tulsi believes that the controversy emanates from our ignorance about the fundamental difference between the teaching of the tenets or scriptures of particular faith and the teaching of sound moral principles without a bias towards a particular religion. No one denies the fact that the youngsters need to be trained and educated for the development of their personality in the right direction.
If we have a peep into the recommendations made by various commissions and committees set by Govt. of India to reconstruct education and put concrete proposals for the feasibility of imparting moral instruction in schools, we shall find that none of them has rejected the idea outright. Shri Shriprakash Samiti which dealt with the question at length recommended that efforts should be made to prepare a text acceptable to all but the idea could not be followed up.
Shri J.P. Naik, the then Secretary of Kothari Commission, called on Acharya Shri Tulsi in Delhi in 1965 and requested him to take steps for the preparation of a series of moral lessons designed to inspire in students the ideals of virtuous life and good behaviour.
Muni Shri Nathmal, a leading disciple of Acharya Shri Tulsi and an eminent thinker, accepted the challenge. The obvious result of it was the production of this book. Its English rendering is being presented for the benefit of non-Hindi speaking students. The essays included in the book cover widely the verying problems and questions that arise in human mind and provide ethical solutions.
I am sure the book will go a long way in showing the correct path to students and moulding their character in consonance with the needs of a democratic country like India.
Muni Shri’s broad outlook free from any sectarian bias is an example for all others to follow. It disproves the common belief that a person connected with a particular faith is bound to have a narrow, bigotted sectarian view of life. Anuvrat Movement aims at promoting the essential unity of all religions and purging society of superstitions and other evils.