In India, the guru-shishya relationship has always been the most important and sacred one right from the Vedic ages. In Sanskrit, the term ‘guru’ means the one who dispels the darkness and takes one towards the light. Therefore, a guru or a teacher holds the most virtuous position for shishya or student to follow and learn from. Not only in Indian scriptures but the history of many other countries also positions a teacher as a transformer who can change the lives of his/her students with his knowledge as well as blessings. A famous Japanese proverb says that one day spent with a great teacher is better than a thousand days of diligent study. Such is the power that rests with gurus or teachers. A shishya is someone who trusts and respects his/her guru to an extent that s/he can fight with his/her fears or go out of the comfort zone to complete the tasks given by the guru.
In the 21st century, the relation between teachers and learners is not far from these definitions. However, the guru of today is more of a friend, philosopher, facilitator, and guide for their shishyas. With the change in time, the guru-shishya relation has also be transformed and they share a more friendly relationship. And even though the guru-shishya bond has undergone many changes with the passing time and adoption of the western education system, but a teacher’s role as a ‘role-model’ continues to be sacred and this cannot be compromised at any cost. However, in today’s era of uncertainties, the significance of a good teacher has become more critical and the teacher-student bond has become stronger as both teachers and students are displaying characteristics to teach and learn better.
Today, a teacher not only tries to imbibe good education, moral education, and other skills but also tries to make the students more vocal about their opinions. The traditional “no questions asked’ policy of Gurukul that traditional guru-shishya followed seems to vanish and for good. A child today feels more open to discuss doubts and ask questions from his/her teacher. Hence, the guidance of a teacher is not only driven by what the teacher wants to teach but what a student wants to learn.
One more aspect that makes the guru-shishye bond stronger today is that a teacher puts in as much effort in strengthening the bond as students would do. For instance, a teacher tries to adopt different and unique teaching methods to make learning sessions more fun for the students, and the students respond to it by participating in the learning session with full enthusiasm hence making the efforts successful. In the dynamic environment, a teacher continues to find new ways to ensure that students can grasp everything the teacher wants to teach and maybe beyond that. This quality of today’s teachers makes them achieve more than materialistic things.
The most beautiful aspect of today’s teachers, from which students are greatly inspired is the fact the teacher NEVER stops learning. Either they learn new methods of teaching or they continue learning their subjects in depth while teaching the students. Which means one can find many teachers who themselves are ambitious students. And irrespective of the age of the teacher, the students of today respect their teachers and embrace their learning. This means even a college student who is undertaking part-time tuition classes for school children is respected the same way as a full-time educationist.
To conclude, we can say that the traditional guru-shishya bond has evolved to become much more flexible and stronger today. Even today, any achievement of a student is not celebrated without mentioning his/her teacher or guide. If in the history we are taught about the examples of Arjuna-Dronacharya, Shivaji Maharaj-Ramdas Swami, Chandragupta Maurya- Chanakya as ideal guru-shishye duos, in today’s era we are exposed to modernized guru-shishye duo examples of P.V. Sindhu-Pullela Gopichand, Sachin Tendulkar-Ramakant Achrekar and more to take inspiration from. In the times to come, we will witness more such examples and also witness the new ways with which guru-shishya bond will remain to be one of the strongest bonds.
By: Ritesh Rawal, an Innovator & Entrepreneur