A personal account by Acharya Amarthya at Dharma Gurukulam
One beautiful day, I entered the classroom and proceeded to observe the state of some of our children’s library books. It was disheartening to see them torn and in severe disrepair. Many books had lost their title pages, and it seemed that the image of Krishna from the storybook had been traced so many times that the Krishna Katha book was unreadable. It is the 8 year olds who playfully do these things.
Addressing the children, I enquired, "We have utilized these resources, and now they are in deplorable condition. Is this the correct way to use them?" A silence filled the room. Some children nodded, displaying regret. Some didn’t know what to say. This is understandable, given their age. Probing further, I questioned, "How often have conflicts arisen among you due to breaking others' pens and books, with demands for restitution, replacing the broken pen, repairing the book, mending the torn cloth, or cleaning the soiled garments of another?" Many raised their hands, affirming their actions.
“How do you feel when your things are damaged?”. They all shared how disappointed they would feel or how angry they would get at others who did this to their things. I then shared "We become so concerned about the resources we perceive we own”. Looking at each kid one after the other I asked “Isn’t this library book also yours?”. “Yes! it is mine…it is also everyone's, it is collectively ours…” came the answers.
If one common book is maintained well, it enables not just us, but all the students in the Gurukul to read it. Also, it can be passed on to the next batch, when more kids are positively inspired by the "Sat Vidya" that the books
provide, then we will have more kids who are inspired to behave well and imbibe the good qualities extolled by the books. This will lead to a dharmic chain of actions including better friendships, better classrooms, better learning and so on.
This problem is evident in our present society. Everyone's homes are clean but colonies dirty; personal cars clean but trains are dirty; food is eaten and plastic waste dumped out! Unless one sees the outside world as also one’s own, the environment will continue to be neglected. One’s personal growth will happen at the cost of the environment. What would be left for future generations to enjoy? May be a difficult place to live in!
When one strives for a better society, better public institutions, and better public resources, one inevitably does far more good to one's own individual self too. In the development of the society lies one’s own growth as well. When the ecosystem is nice, we too benefit from it. Understanding this is crucial in creating harmonious and responsible communities. The vidyarthis quickly got my point and promised to amend their actions. Such vidyarthis who have imbibed this through gurukula-vidya shall grow out to be the life force of a better society.