Brahmaanandham Parama Sukhadam
Kevalam Jnaana Murthim
Dhvandhvaa Theetham Gagana Sadhrisham
Tathvam Asyaadi Lakshyam
Ekam Nithyam Vimalam Achalam
Sarvadhee Saakshi Bhutham
Bhavaatheetham Thriguna Rahitham
Sadhgurum Tham Namaami.
Meaning/Translation: This sloka tries to describe the qualities of a true Guru. A real Guru experiences the supreme Bliss of Brahmaananda (transcedental divine bliss). He enjoys and confers changeless supreme happiness. He is beyond space and time (there is nothing higher than him). He is the embodiment of wisdom which is the basis for all types of knowledge. He transcends the pair of opposites (such as happiness and sorrow, gain and loss). He is more Omnipresent than space itself. He is the very embodiment of the Divine principle, which is the inner meaning of the four great pronouncements Prajnaanam Brahma, Aham Brahmasmi, Thath Thvam Asi and Ayam Aathma Brahma. He is One without a second (ekam). He never changes under any circumstances (nithyam). He is without any type of impurity (vimalam). He is steady and motionless(achalam). He is the witness of everything. He transcends mental comprehension and verbal explanation. He is beyond the three gunas (sathva, rajas and thamas). I offer my humble salutations to such a Guru who possesses all these qualities.
Now all these are ideal qualities of a teacher or Guru as defined by our ancient texts. Of course in today’s world its not possible due to various reasons to be such an ideal teacher. And of course there aren’t any ideal students either. Yet there are some professional ethics and moral issues synonymous with the teaching profession. Its been only 4 years since I’m in this profession and I have come to know many incidents exposing the dark side of lecturers/professors or rather the flawed humanness in them after all. For example taking bribes, threatening students to get them to take private tuitions from oneself etc. Now the conversation that inspired me to write the post was like this:-
My colleague: You know our girl students who live in hostel celebrate their birthdays by smoking cigars. And many even smoke regularly.
Me: OMG! We just used to have dance party and cake. By the way how do you know this for a fact?
My colleague: They told me. You know all the students are very frank with me and tell me all sort of things.
Me: Ah yes! So didn’t you tell them that it is a bad habit and they should not be doing it?
My colleague: No. Why should I? I believe its their personal choice and no one should interfere in that. No one should object to what a person does in his or her personal life.
Me: I think smoking is a proven bad thing and incomparable to a personal choice like for example having a boyfriend. Moreover isn’t it what a teacher should do when a student tells him about a bad thing he/she is doing? Isn’t it like one of the duties of a teacher to help a student give up wrong things?
Another colleague: Those days of an ideal teacher are gone Madam. What will you get out of teaching what’s right and what’s wrong to students? We are being given salary to teach subjects and complete syllabus.
Me: Money isn’t everything. And this isn’t idealism. There are some things that should be done in a profession like ours without thinking of monetary benefits and those things are not measurable in terms of money.
After this, a 3rd colleague, knowing my nature intervened and diverted the topic so as to avoid a heated discussion. Now the first colleague is a very popular teacher and a favorite among students due to his teaching and his friendliness. His friendliness includes no scolding, no assignments, no tests, having drinks with students, talking casually with them (read: using slang expressions) and so on. I guess due to these reasons he himself realizes that he isn’t in any position to preach. But what about the other normal colleagues who held the same view? Am I wrong in thinking that advising students is a part of a teacher’s duties? Is my definition of a good teacher outdated in present scenario? Does a good teacher now means one whose lecture you can grasp and one who doesn’t interfere in your so called (edited as Shefaly pointed out correctly) personal life? Are the duties of a good teacher only limited to teaching well? Should the execution of duties and responsibilities be proportional to the salary being received? Am I wrong in going out of my way to do something like taking extra doubt solving classes in morning, which my colleagues call as over zealousness and stupidity when college is not paying you extra for that? Is being a buddy a criteria for a good teacher? I think one needs to strike a balance between being warm with students but also keeping a firm attitude at same time. It may discourage many students to be frank about their life with me but then I really don’t feel like being buddies with my students. I feel a distance must be maintained and a certain amount of strictness is necessary to get performance especially when the habit of self study is missing in most students. Of course its been only 4 years and maybe I have a lot more to learn and I may be proved wrong. But I sincerely hope not.