What is education? You and others such as you, in many parts of India, are engaged upon a study of this great problem: What is education?
There is a small prayer in one of our sacred Upanishads: I recite it every day. Every day, early in the morning, I recite the words of a rishi: “Tamaso ma jyatir gamaya!” Out of darkness lead me into Light! There, to my mind, is the secret of the true ideal of education. The aspiration of the great teachers of humanity has ever been this: “Lead me out of darkness into Light!” And I believe the purpose of true education is even this—to lead us out of darkness into Light.
I remember the words of a great poet of the western world. Him, too, I call a rishi—the great German poet, Goethe. He was a seer. Him I revere as a world-poet. He was lying ill. One day, he turned to his friends who were by his bedside and said to them: “Won’t you open the window of my room?” The window was opened: the poet looked through the window and gazed at the beauty of the sun, then made a statement which I have remembered ever since I read it. Goethe said: “Light! More Light!” The teaching of the Upanishads was reaffirmed by this great seer of Germany: “Light! More Light!” I believe this motto, this ideal, these words, enshrine the very heart of the wisdom of education.
Unify culture and service, and teach the students a new reverence for the poor, for the peasant, and the labourer.