Saraswati Sishu Vidya Mandirs, run by Vidya Bharati, spearhead Indianisation, nationalisation and spiritualisation of education
Little did Bharat Ratna recipient Nanaji Deshmukh realise, way back in 1952, that the seeds shown by him at Gorakhpur in the form of Saraswati Sishu Mandir schools could one day grow into the great banyan tree with its roots spread all across the country. That one day these schools, while fighting all odds, would strive to keep alive the legacy of ancient day gurukulas, in the sacred land of Bharata.
So, when Roshan Kumar Purohit, a student of standard 10, Saraswati Sishu Vidya Mandir (SSVM), Niladri Vihar, Bhubaneswar, Odisha, admits of reciting ‘Kara-Agre Vasate Lakssmiih Kara-Madhye Sarasvatii | Kara-Muule Tu Govindah Prabhaate Kara-Darshanam ||’ (At the top of the palm dwell is Devi Lakshmi, and at the middle of the palm dwell is Devi Saraswati. At the bottom of the palm dwell is Sri Govinda. Therefore one should look at one’s palms in the early morning and contemplate on them.)
Every morning after getting up from bed, due to the insistence of his Sailendra Guruji, he is not just referring to a routine; rather Roshan is providing a glimpse of what these schools have always stood for – keeping the tradition alive. A day for Roshan is incomplete without Ganesh Stuthi and Saraswati Vandana. Coming from a business family, Roshan, after standard 10th, is planning to study at Saraswati Gyana Mandir, the +2 Science wing. He aims to become an engineer. His parents are happy with their decision of sending Roshan to this school. Apart from games such as volleyball and Kho-Kho, Roshan also names Mandal Kabaddi, Traffic, Hira Chori and Bahu Chori as his favourite recreational activities at school.
Smruti Narayan and Divyesh of SSVM, Bhuban, Odisha, take pride in the fact that their school teaches them Vedic Maths, something no other school does. Using the formula Urdhva Tiryagbhyam, Smruti claims to solve complex multiplications with an ease he never felt before. The subject reinforces his belief that his ancestors, well versed in Vedas, also knew Mathematics and knew it much better than most mathematicians today. This type of Mathematics had its origin in India
This is the 10th year of Rajesh at SSVM, Niladri Vihar. And yet, in the past 10 years he has seen very little of Bhubaneswar. He is seldom allowed to leave the campus. The school’s policy of creating a self-sufficient campus for its inmates is a unique attempt of protecting these innocent minds from the corrupting influence of a city. Discipline is a hallmark of these schools. Rajesh takes purely vegetarian hostel food. The yoga training received at evening Shakhas is, according to Rajesh, the best aspect of his education at the Vidya Mandir.
An Institution That Teaches Vedic Maths
Smruti Narayan and Divyesh of SSVM, Bhuban, Odisha, take pride in the fact that their school teaches them Vedic Maths, something no other school does. Using the formula Urdhva Tiryagbhyam, Smruti claims to solve complex multiplications with an ease he never felt before. The subject reinforces his belief that his ancestors, well versed in Vedas, also knew Mathematics and knew it much better than most mathematicians today. This type of Mathematics had its origin in India.
In contrast to Bhubaneswar, the capital city of Odisha, Bhuban (now an NAC), once had a distinction of being the largest village in India. The penetration of SSVMs, from cities to suburbs and down to the villages, is something that no one really talks about! Surprisingly, the mainstream media maintains a stony silence about the achievements of these schools.
Gurus Don’t Charge Salaries
With a tuition fee of mere Rs 1,000 per month for Standard 10th, education at Vidya Mandirs, comes at less than one-tenth the rates charged by some of the so-called elite schools in this part of the world. And yet, there are no billboards screaming Vidya Mandirs to be the number one school in town. Gurus in these schools don’t charge a salary; most of them render their services for a dakshina – quite reminiscent of gurukula ways! Vidya Bharati, which is the educational wing of Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh, runs one of the largest private networks of schools, namely the Saraswati Sishu Vidya Mandirs. It runs approximately 30,000 educational institutes in India. The million lives club selected Vidya Bharati as an official member of Vanguard cohort for its contribution to school education. With ‘Sa Vidya Ya Vimuktaye’ (That is education which liberates) Vidya Bharati advocates ‘Indianisation, nationalisation and spiritualisation of education’. This seems to be a far cry from the present day trend of creating commercial complexes where a commodity called education comes with a hefty price tag, where an annual budget is earmarked for advertising with an aim to persuade parents to buy their wards an expensive education. Needless to ask, why does the media prefer to ignore this silent march of SSVMs towards ‘Indianisation, nationalisation and spiritualisation of education’?