Indian culture, juts like any other culture, is a rich source of knowledge . But what makes Indian culture a repository of Wisdom , are the Ancient Indian scriptures, which are full of practical wisdom.Today I am going to share an ancient shloka with you all .This shloka beautifully explains the qualities of a good student. These qualities when imbibed and practiced give wonderful results not only during the student life, but also the life ahead. I’ve taken some liberty in interpreting the Shloka, so as to make it more relevant to the 21st century students and their parents. Here I go.
The above in English translates to,
The Desire or Wish of a Crow, the Concentration of a Crane or Egret or Flamingo, the sleep of a Dog, the appetite of a calculated Eater, Leaving home — are the five characteristics of traits of a Student.
A little explanation of each of the five traits, which every student must have:
(1) Desire or Wish of a Crow : With too many motivational Gurus out there, we can read this virtue as “Willpower of a crow” :
Have you ever observed a crow. The moment some food becomes available near a crow, it instantly tries to have it. In most cases , it ends at achieving its goal. This is nothing but a strong Willpower.
Strong willpower is the first prerequisite of success. If you can’t desire for something, you can’t achieve it. The importance of strong will power has increased many folds today, courtesy a lot of competition and a lot of merit. So one should keep trying. However harsh and unfavourable the situation be.
“Living in the favorable and unfavorable situation is called Part of living. But, smiling in all those situations is called the Art of living.”
So each of us should know the art of living and should never lose hope.
(2) Concentration or Focus of a crane or Egret or flamingo :
Concentration is the second prerequisite of a Student. And , if a human being is a student of Life, then it’s never too late to learn any good skill. The importance is more so for a student as the student life is the foundation for life ahead. It assumes even more important today, than any time in the past ,as these days students have a lot of distractions. There are electronic gadgets,peer pressure, lack of communication between parents & children etc. Hence concentration on studies or any work they do is necessary.
“As long as I can concentrate and remain somewhat calm, I can normally do very well.”
— Al Oerter
(3) Sleep of a dog : What is the sleep of a dog like? You drop a pin many feet away from it, and it wakes up.
A student must have alertness of mind. The moment he/she gets up from the bed, till the time he/she to bed, the mind must be alert. This is the exact meaning of the dog like sleep. The alertness of mind is the ability to learn fully, so as to take right decision at the right time. This in a way means better problem solving skill. Only alert mind can be more aware of the real life situations and can act accordingly. The alertness of mind doesn’t mean a child is the sole one responsible for this alertness. Alert mind also means being aware of social abuses. Since a child has no experience to get alert to such evils, it’s the responsibility of the parents and guardians to get them know about such threats in the outside world.
Alert and socially aware children can protect themselves from various social abuses.
For an alert mind, the quality of sleep is important. Early to bed and early to rise , must be the philosophy. To inculcate good sleeping habits, the parents have to sacrifice their own late night TV viewing as well (who said upbringing kids is easy!). A six hour sound sleep for a class 9th to 12th student is necessary. Younger children can sleep up to 12 hours, as that helps mind and physical growth. Plus, they must not burdened with too much studies.
“Be on the alert to recognize your prime at whatever time of your life it may occur.”
— Dame Muriel Spark
(4) The appetite of a calculated Eater :
Some years ago an interesting visual joke got published in Reader’s Digest. The joke in the form of a cartoon, had a squirrel on the ICU bead, and telling to the Doctor: When someone told me, what you eat is what you’re; I realised that I’m Nuts. Hope you get the joke.
The appetite (in Hindi ‘Bhookh’) of a calculated or aware eater means that whenever he eats he takes into account the effect of the food on the mind and body. Eating too much or too much unhealthy food make the person sluggish and lazy, making him/her ineffective in the tasks. Thus Eating less is not the only trait a student , the focus must also be on eating healthy in right amount at right time. Eating too much food before an important lecture or exam will only make one sluggish. The Wisdom doesn’t stop a student from eating adequate food, it only prescribes healthy food in right quantity. Afterall, the student life coincides with the growth and adolescent age that needs good nutrition for healthy development of body and mind.
“There is no diet that will do what eating healthy does.”
(5) Leaving home :
In Ancient India, Leaving Home meant leaving home to study at some Sage’s Hermitage. In today’s world, if LEaving Home becomes a prerequisite in that form, then most parents will find it difficult to educate even a single child. Boarding school require real money resources, which parents lack.
I think leaving home here means exploring the World outside Books. This means exploring the nature . If said differently, this means thinking beyond the four walls of home/school/classroom or more appropriately developing critical and creative thinking among students and critical thinking.
“The essence of the independent mind lies not in what it thinks, but in how it thinks.”
–– Christopher Hitchens
As parents one can only try his/her best to inculcate good habit in their child. These qualities can be inculcated in each and every child by better upbringing ,motivation ,love , care and of course better teaching learning process.The teaching learning process must shift from rote memory to understanding.
[The Writer is a Lecturer in a Government School]