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Influence, Ideals and Idols - Part 1

We are influenced by some people at some periods of our lives. It is particularly evident when we reflect on our childhood and adolescence - the formative periods. Individuals and individuals of a specific kind, hold tremendous control of our lives when we are young. Parents, relatives, friends and along with them, another important group of individuals who have great influence are our teachers.

A teacher can be anybody from the people mentioned before - parents, relatives and friends. Quite often, a stranger can also be our teacher; like the writer and the poet, who speaks through his characters and ideas; like the artist, who speaks through the images he creates; like the so many actors on this stage called life, who teach us how to be and not to be by their actions, utterances, reactions and replies, innocent of the knowledge that they are actually teaching the onlookers i.e. us.

Nature is one of the greatest teachers. So are events influenced by nature or enacted by individuals, occasional and sometimes harsh, yet great teachers. Frequently, we are so engrossed in the events and happenings that we fail to recognize that we are being taught, through the subtle influences those events and individuals exercise over us.

To understand this truth, which seems to be abnormal though only superficially, we need to understand who is a teacher and what a teacher does or should do.

Who is a teacher? The person who has been trained to translate and explain the information given in books and employed by the schools - is he or she a teacher? As mundane an affair as presenting information that can be obtained from books and asking students to represent it back (as homework) - is that teaching? May be it is and they are; we cannot argue against it. But who really is a teacher?

A teacher is someone and sometimes something, who helps an individual to understand his or her own self, and unfold their identity and individuality. How do teachers do that? By providing an environment, where the individual can ask questions. And most importantly, by sparking a burning desire in the individual to seek answers to those questions, so that the individual does not stop until he and she obtain clear and satisfactory answers.

These burning desires of individuals to seek answers, inspire them to think and innovate. The desires transform into ambitions that move the world and keep it alive through progress. Such desires can only be initiated by events or individuals acting as teachers.


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अगजानन पद्मार्कम् गजाननम् अहर्निशम्।
अनेकदन्तम् भक्तानाम् एकदन्तम् उपास्महे॥
agajānana padmārkam gajānanam aharniśam|
anekadantam bhaktānām ekadantam upāsmahe|| What a beautiful verse to behold and listen! I heard it first when this verse was suggested as an invocation for our magazine Yuva Bharati by my brother a couple of years ago. (Yup! I promptly posted it on facebook - even social networks have been permeated by spirituality :-D)

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