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गुरू गोविन्द दोऊ खड़े, काके लागूं पांय।
बलिहारी गुरू अपने गोविन्द दियो बताय।।

Through this Doha, Kabir is trying to emphasize the importance of teachers in our life. He says that a Guru (Teacher) and God are standing in front of you, then whose feet you will touch and give honor to? Then he says that Guru deserves the first right to get the honor as he affectionately teaches to know God by giving knowledge. Therefore, the importance of the Guru is more than the God.

I believe nothing could have better put an end to this argument than this Doha. We all agree that teachers are the stepping stone and guiding light of our life. We all might have one or more teachers whom we admire from the core of our hearts.

I feel lucky to have been surrounded by such teachers who motivate me to be a better person, not only for my own sake but also for the sake of the whole of humankind.

So today, on September 5, which is celebrated as a tribute to the contribution made by teachers to our society, let’s take a moment to remind yourself of your favorite teacher and let them know through a call, text message, or a letter that they mean so much to you. Let them know that they have played an important part in shaping you in the right direction. Let them know that they’ve succeeded in their profession by being kind, empathetic, encouraging, and understanding. Time is running out, what are you waiting for? Go and hit the button.

Okay. So, after wishing your teacher some good words. Let’s now remember some of the great teachers our country had to date. Teachers who knew no bounds. Teachers who taught us beyond the boundaries of four walls.

Here we go!

1) Dr. Sarvepalli Radhakrishnan 

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True teachers are those who help us think for ourselves.
- Dr. Sarvepalli Radhakrishnan

We celebrate Teacher’s Day on the birth anniversary of Dr. Sarvepalli Radhakrishnan. He was a great teacher, philosopher, author, and great human being. He was a meritorious student and completed his studies through various scholarships.

Would you like to know why we celebrate this day as a teacher’s day? So, the story goes like this. When Radhakrishnan was on the post of president, his students approached him and asked for his approval to make his birthday, which is the 5th of September a special day. But instead of accepting their request, Radhakrishnan suggested that this day should be celebrated as Teacher’s Day to recognize and honor the contributions made by teachers, not only to their students but also to the whole society. And since then, we celebrate this day as Teacher’s Day.

Quotes by Sarvepalli Radhakrishnan

  • “Knowledge gives us power; love gives us fullness."
  • “When we think we know we cease to learn.”
  • “Books are how we build bridges between cultures."
  • “The true teachers are those who help us think for ourselves."
  • “The end-product of education should be a free creative man, who can battle against historical circumstances and adversities of nature."
  • “Teachers should be the best mind in the country."

2) Chanakya

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Chanakya is considered to be one of the greatest teachers of all time. We all must have read his advice in the form of Chanakya-Niti which guides us on every aspect of our lives, be it relationships, war, personal and public life. He goes on to explain the tactics and lessons that we should learn to better cope with the extremities thrown at us by our life.

Chanakya excelled in philosophy and Economics and was a professor at the University of Takshashila. It is believed that he was humiliated by a great king named Dhanananda, and to take revenge, Chanakya took a boy off the street, and trained him in planning, plotting, and strategizing to win over the kingdom of Magadha. The name of the boy was Chandragupta Maurya.

There’s a famous quote from Chanakya that says;

“Before you start something really important, always ask the following three questions – Why are you doing it, what is your definition of success, and what are your chances of succeeding?”

Chanakya not only taught us the greatest lessons of economics, Statecraft, and management but he also went on to teach us the greatest of life lessons that help us sail through life that is sometimes unpredictable and cruel.

Through his teachings, he has won generations of disciplines that were not directly taught by him but learned through his thoughts that were stored in history. He will continue to inspire, motivate and guide the coming generations and his name will forever be imprinted in our hearts as “The greatest of all teachers.”

Quotes of Chanakya:

  • Education is our best friend. An educated person is respected everywhere. Education beats beauty and youth
  • The wise man should restrain his senses like the crane and accomplish his purpose with due knowledge of his place, time, and ability.
  • Education beats the beauty and the youth
  • Books are as useful to a stupid person as a mirror is useful to a blind person.
  • He who lives in our mind is near though he may be far away; but he who is not in our heart is far though he may be nearby.

3) Savitribai Phule

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Being the first female teacher of India, the work of Savitribai Bai Phule is no less than an act of great bravery. She fought for the education of women when it was considered a sin to send your girls outside the home.

She was taught by her husband when she used to visit fields to give him his afternoon meal. When this news reached Jyotiba’s father, he outcaste them. But this didn’t deter the faith of the couple. They went on to establish the first girl’s school in Vishram Bagh Wada, Pune.

For their audacity to go against societal norms, they were vilified by the orthodox section of society. When their harsh words didn’t break the faith of Savitribai, they went on to throw filth, eggs, rotten tomatoes, and cow dung. Instead of being angry at them, she would gently reply, “My brothers, I am doing the noble job of educating your sisters. The cow dung and stones that you are pelting on me are not a deterrent but rather an inspiration for me. It is as if you are showering petals on me. While I vow to serve my sisters, I also pray, 'May God bless you.'"

Also, to deal with this situation, she used to carry one extra saree along with her on way to school. So that if the saree she was wearing got soiled by dirt, she can change it once she reached school and then can start with her teaching. While returning home, she would again change into a filthy saree to take filth from society.

Her poetry books named “KAVYA PHULE” and “BAVAN KASHI SUBODH RATNAKAR” continue to inspire us to date with their hard questions on caste and gender. Her poem, “Go, Get Education” encourages people to free themselves through education.

Her contribution to the field of women’s education is valuable. All women of our country owe her respect and a great deal of gratitude. Women's emancipation was never an easy task, but the contribution of Savitri Bái is something that has provided wheels to the movement in this direction.

Quotes by Savitri Bai Phule

  • “The lack of learning is nothing but gross bestiality. It is through the acquisition of knowledge that (he) loses his lower status and achieves a higher one.”
  • “We shall overcome and success will be ours in the future. The future belongs to us.”
  • “Sit idle no more. Go get an education.”
  • “Stories don’t lead to results. They lead to questions. Stories help children ask the question—why? These make children curious and critical thinkers. This thinking leads to the changes we see on the ground”
  • "Our patriarchal societies, especially the communities we work with, do not appreciate their mindsets being questioned. And there I was going home to home, investigating their girls and talking about their right to have an education! I remember having countless doors slammed in my face and the mistreatments hurled at me and my team. They would call us mad dogs!”

4) Rabindranath Tagore

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Rabindra Nath Tagore was a poet, writer, playwright, songwriter, and philosopher, but above all, he was a great educator. He taught beyond the scope of books. He taught his students to learn from personal life experiences, as he believed that life is the greatest of all the teachers.

He preferred teaching his children in the company of nature. He wanted them to feel the flowing air, the soothing sound of it, and everything that exists in between. In his Ashrams, students were taught to rise early in the morning, to draw water from the well for their bath, and to make their beds. Tagore believed in freedom of mind and he helped his disciples to find that freedom on their own.

We all enjoy one of the great poems by the name “Where the mind is without fear and the head is held high” which goes like this;

Where the mind is without fear and the head is held high
Where knowledge is free
Where the world has not been broken up into fragments
By narrow domestic walls
Where words come out from the depth of truth
Where tireless striving stretches its arms towards perfection
Where the clear stream of reason has not lost its way
Into the dreary desert sand of dead habit
Where the mind is led forward by thee
Into ever-widening thought and action
Into that heaven of freedom, my Father, let my country awake.
Rabindranath Tagore

Quotes by Rabindra Nath Tagore:

  • “The highest education is that which does not merely give us information, but makes our life in harmony with all existence”
  • “We rob the child of his earth to teach him geography; Of language, to teach him grammar; His hunger is for the epic, (but) he is supplied with chronicles of facts and dates”
  • “At first, children must gather knowledge through their life because children are in love with their life, and it is their first love. All its color and movement attract their eager attention, and then they will renounce their lives to gain knowledge “
  • “Luxuries are the burdens of other people's habits, the burdens of the vicarious pride and pleasure which parents enjoy through their children”
  • “The mind of the child is always on the alert, restless, and eager to receive firsthand knowledge from mother nature. Children should be surrounded by the things of nature which have their educational value. Their minds should be allowed to stumble upon and be surprised at everything that happens in today's life”

5) Gautam Buddha

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Gautam Buddha was born in the royal dynasty in Lumbini. At the age of 29, he left his kingdom and family behind in search of truth. He wandered for 6 years and finally got enlightenment while meditating under the Bodhi tree in Gaya. After this, he started preaching his message of love and non-violence across regions. In this way, he got many of his followers who joined in the journey of self-discovery.

He contributed various great philosophies such as Meta-Physics, epistemology, and ethics. He also gave 3 ideals of Buddhism namely, The Buddha, The Dharma, and The Sangha.

On his journey to finding the truth, he came up with four noble truths. They are;

  1. In life, there is always suffering.
  2. There is a cause of suffering. And the cause is desire and ignorance.
  3. The suffering can be eliminated.
  4. There is a path to eliminate suffering.

He also gave noble eight-fold paths. They are;

  1. Right Understanding or Perfect Vision
  2. Right Resolve or Perfect Emotion
  3. Right Speech or Perfect Speech
  4. Right Action or Perfect Action
  5. Right Livelihood or Perfect Livelihood
  6. Right Effort or Perfect Effort
  7. Right Mindfulness or Perfect Awareness
  8. Right Meditation or Perfect Samadhi

Quotes by Gautam Buddha

  • My teaching is not philosophy. It is the result of direct experience...
    My teaching is a means of practice, not something to hold onto or worship.
    My teaching is like a raft used to cross the river.
    Only a fool would carry the raft around after he had already reached the other shore of liberation.
  • To cease from evil, to do good, and to purify the mind yourself, this is the teaching of all the Buddhas.
  • Just as the great ocean has one taste, the taste of salt, so also this teaching and discipline have one taste, the taste of liberation.
  • To live a single day and hear a good teaching is better than to live a hundred years without knowing such teaching.
  • Yet the Teaching is simple. Do what is right. Be pure. At the end of the way is freedom.

6) Swami Vivekananda

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Swami Vivekananda was born in Bengal. He was a monk, philosopher, and author. He introduced philosophies such as Darsana, Vedanta, and Yoga to the western world. He is credited with raising interfaith awareness and elevating the status of Hinduism to a major world religion during the late nineteenth century. He founded Ramkrishna Math.

He emphasized that you should first believe in yourself, only then will you be able to believe in God. He told us that we have to grow from the inside. No one can teach you life lessons until you are not willing to teach yourself. No one can make you spiritual. You have to take control of your own life. Because there is no greater teacher than your soul.

He also taught us to hold on in the face of adversity. He told us that persistence is the key to achieving your goals. Hurdles are destined to come when you embark on a difficult journey, but you have to fight them and not give up in the face of adversity.

Quotes by Swami Vivekananda

  • All the wealth of the world cannot help one little Indian village if the people are not taught to help themselves. Our work should be mainly educational, both moral and intellectual.
  • Educate and raise the masses, and thus alone a nation is possible.
  • Education, education, education alone! Traveling through many cities of Europe and observing in them the comforts and education of even the poor people, there was brought to my mind the state of our poor people, and I used to shed tears. What made the difference? Education was the answer I got. Through education comes faith in one’s Self, and through faith in one’s Self the inherent Brahman is waking up in them.
  • Education is not filling the mind with a lot of facts. Perfecting the instrument and getting complete mastery of my mind is the ideal education.
  • Education is the manifestation of the perfection already in man.

7) Dr. A. P. J. Abdul Kalam

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He was an aerospace scientist and statesman who served as the 11th President of India. On account of his efforts in the field of missile development, he came to be known as the Missile Man of India.

He rightfully said;

“If a country is to be corruption free and become a nation of beautiful minds, I strongly feel there are three key societal members who can make a difference. They are the father, the mother, and the teacher.”

He inspired young people to think differently. He inspired them to have the courage to be different, courage to invent, courage to travel the unexplored path, courage to discover the impossible, and courage to conquer problems and succeed.

He encouraged youth to dream big and devote single-minded focus to achieving that goal. If you work hard to make something possible, it doesn’t seem impossible.

Kalam was in the field of science, but his work was solely based on ethics, humanity, and integrity.

Quotes by Kalam

  • The nation's best brains may be found on the last benches of the classroom.
  • All of us do not have equal talent. But, all of us have an equal opportunity to develop our talents.
  • Excellence happens not by accident. It is a process.
  • The purpose of education is to make good human beings with skill and expertise... Enlightened human beings can be created by teachers.
  • Creativity is seeing the same thing but thinking differently.
  • A small aim is a crime; have a great aim.
  • Educationists should build the capacities of the spirit of inquiry, creativity, and entrepreneurial and moral leadership among students and become their role models.

Happy Teacher's Day!

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