Our Teachers – हमारे अध्यापक (September 2016)

When there is a pitch darkness, it is likely for one to stumble even if the surroundings is familiar and safe, but when there is light, the same person can sprint through dangerous terrains. Similarly, when right information is missing, it is almost inevitable for one to fail in smallest of small life situations, but when empowered with right knowledge, one can achieve wonders in life. The instrument that imparts knowledge, dispels ignorance and illuminates paths of our life is teacher. 
After paying homage to our most revered relation, our parents, in last month’s assignment, we will now cover the next logical relation, which may not have biological ties with us but is equally – if not more –  important and crucial for our enrichment: Our Teachers (हमारे अध्यापक). With September 5th being celebrated as the Teachers Day in India and kids in USA starting their school sessions in September, we couldn’t find a more apt topic than this one for this month’s kids assignment.
Of all the species, human species is uniquely endowed with a faculty to acquire infinite knowledge and grow immensely. While all species evolve over a long period (thousands of generations) and mostly at physical level, humans have the capacity to ascend or descend in a single life based on the type and level of knowledge acquired. But what is knowledge and who conveys it? 
Knowledge is the understanding of a subject, which one acquires under the able guidance of a teacher by listening, studying, observing, and analyzing. Teachers are the medium who not only pass prior knowledge to students but also empower them to grow it by personally experiencing it. But here the term ‘teacher’ is not limited to just those who are teacher by profession: anyone who gives us right knowledge is our teacher.
When we are born, our parents teach us how to talk and walk. By showering unconditional love and protecting us from troubles, they teach us the value of family. Parents are our first teachers. 
From Kindergarten onward, we formally acquire skills to earn our livelihood and succeed in life from our school and college teachers.
Our relatives, friends, social networks and surroundings in general teach us intangible life skills.
And if we are blessed and mentally ready to proceed on divine path, we also come in contact with pure souls and pure environments that help us grow spiritually. Such pure souls are also our teachers. In Upnishads, divine knowledge is captured in terms of dialog between teachers and students. 
A teacher takes the pain of understanding students’ past understanding and weaknesses and then presents the knowledge in manners that are most conducive for the students to grasp. Lord Krishna, who acted as Arjuna’s teacher on the battle ground, understood the weaknesses that enveloped Arjuna and meticulously enlightened and inspired him by presenting knowledge (Gita Gyan) in different manners (18 chapters). 
Despite being an essential part of student’s success, a true teacher never wants glory or recognition in return. It is extremely difficult to find any other relation as selfless and pious as teacher. It is not a surprise then that our scriptures also categorize teachers as dev (आचार्य देवो भवः). It is our highest duty to offer our utmost respect and devotion to our teachers. 
Caution: while learning to respect true teachers, we must be aware of and steer clear of modern day gurus who exploit people by presenting themselves as god-incarnations.
I am looking forward to hear kids understanding and views on this pure relation, Our Teachers, at this month’s hawan.
Harsh Mendiratta🙏🏽