माता पिता गुरु देवा * மாதா பிதா குரு தெய்வம் * മാതാ പിതാ ഗുരു ദൈവം
‘Matha Pitha Guru Deva’ translates into most Indian languages as ‘Mother Father Teacher God’. It owes its origin to the Vedic times and is said to be the greatest truth. It is the order of reverence as laid down by the Hindu philosophy.
First comes the mother (Matha), obviously as she is the one who carried us in her womb for ten months, developed as into a human being from a mere cell, who gave her essence to create us and brought us into this world.
Then is the father (Pitha), as he has contributed 23 chromosomes. Nearly half your traits are inherited from the father. The mother and father then take us to the teacher (Guru), and it is the guru(s), through their teachings, develop our minds and channelize our thinking. All the three have a very important role in identifying our Gods (Deva) and bringing us closer to the God.
As per Hindu mythology, Lord Shiva and his consort Parvati received a ripe mango. Their children Ganesha and Karthikeya, both wanted it. To break the impasse, Lord Shiva asked them to go around the world and the one who returns first would win the mango. Karthikeya immediately set off to encircle the world on his mount, the peacock. Ganesha realising that his mount, the rat is no match for the peacock, went around his parents once and claimed the prize saying that the parents are the whole world to him and by going around them once, he had in effect gone around the world. The happy parents gifted the fruit to Ganesha. When Karthikeya returned after going round the world, he saw Ganesha with the fruit in his hand. His non-understanding of this simple truth upset him so much that he is believed to have gone away to live alone and meditate in the hills of Palani in Southern India.
Based on my earlier articles about our teachers at Sainik School and the National Defence Academy (NDA), Veteran Brigadier Azad Sameer expressed his views. He said that many of our teachers are unsung heroes who have mentored a generation of students and taught them values and ideals which are everlasting. He is reminded of many of teachers in school, especially those associated with English, maths, physics, boxing, football and so on. Besides the subject proper, many of them taught lessons that one carries for life.
Brigadier Sameer is of the opinion that essentially this reverence for teachers is born out of a typical Indian value. A special bond between the teacher and pupil. 5000 years of Indian history will bear testimony to this special bond and special value system. Elsewhere in the world, he wonders whether one get to see this emotional connect between the teacher and the taught.
In my opinion, in case such an umbilical cord between the teacher and the students did not exist in the entire world, we would never have had the novel and then the movie like ‘To Sir With Love.’ The reverence for teachers exist in all the societies across the world.
Jesus Christ in the bible is referred to as Lord, Savior, Master, and Redeemer. In the four Gospels, out of 90 times Jesus was addressed directly, 60 times he was called Teacher. As per St John (13:13), Jesus is supposed to have said that ‘You call me Teacher and Lord, and rightly so, for that is what I am.‘
The reverence for their teachers what students demonstrate here in Canada is very much the same as what the students do in India. Most of the Indian guru-shishya (teacher-student) relationship of today is mostly hypocritical and that was what many of my classmates on leaving our school realised. We always addressed our teachers as Mister Raman or Miss Murphy; we never added the typical ‘Sir‘ as what most Indian teachers expect the students to. When our classmates reached their universities, they addressed their teachers in the same way and they faced castigation not only from the teachers, but also from their peers. Many took offense to addressing the professor as ‘Mister.’.
The teachers in Canada, expect the students to address them as ‘Mister/Miss‘ and some even insist on being addressed with only their first name. The teachers in Canada are much more straightforward in their relationship with the students. Here the teachers earn the students’ respect rather than forcing themselves on the students.
I feel that the teachers in Canada give more freedom to the students for developing their ideas and thoughts. The teachers are much more approachable and appear to be multi-talented and many have both formal and informal qualifications and experiences in varied fields other than the subjects they teach. The students discuss anything and everything under the sun with their teachers. We were lucky during our school days that we had similar teachers as in Canada.
The importance of high school teachers for the students are much more in Canada as the students need at least two teachers’ recommendations for university admission. For any job as a teenager or even later, two high school teachers’ recommendation is mandatory, even if it is for an assistant’s job at a coffee or burger shop. Our son Nikhil needed it while applying for the job of swimming instructor and lifeguard at the city’s swimming pool and also when he applied for a volunteer position at the city hospital.
About 70% of a high school student’s assessment is done by the teacher throughout the semester. The assessment is based on various assignments, presentations, written submissions, tests, quizzes, etc. The attitude and aptitude of the student and his organisational ability is also reported upon. The final semester examinations generally carry only 30% of the marks. This demands real effort from the students to maintain a healthy relationship with their teachers.
The teacher-student relationship is celebrated during the valedictory address by the student valedictorian of Grade 12 and also at Grade 8 during the graduation ceremony. You must have watched many valedictory addresses posted on the YouTube or social-media.
Teachers play an important role in nation building by developing young students into responsible citizens. Teachers through their perseverance, love and sacrifices has shown us the right path in which great men have built the nations. Any strong and powerful nation is endowed with committed and dedicated teachers, without whom these nations would never have achieved glory.
In the modern world of information overload, we may even define it as ‘Matha, Pitha, Google, Deva.’