Most Precious Foundation
“Our duty is to practice Pancha Maha Yajna every day,” says Riya, a 13-year-old girl from Dunda, Uttarakhand. She is one of eight students in a Gurukula led by Amrita staff, Subhadra. Riya lists all of the principles studied in six Amrita SeRVe villages over the past year.
“Pancha Maha Yajna includes Deva Yajna, Pitru Yajna, Brahma Yajna, Manushya Yajna and Bhuta Yajna.”
“In Deva Yajna, God resides in the whole world,” Riya explains about the first Yajna. “God has created this world and we offer our gratitude by praying to the Creator every day.”
Through storytelling of beloved scriptures such as the Ramayana as well as stories of Krishna and many other deities and saints, Gurukulam students imbibe their tradition. The children also meditate and pray during each get together, following the teacher’s guidance in the art of connecting with the Supreme within.
“In Pitru Yajna,” Riya continues, “we learn to respect and serve our parents and elders and to behave properly.”
“Brahma Yajna teaches us to acquire knowledge from reading scriptural books, which we should share with others.”
“Manushya Yajna is about honoring and respecting all human beings, living together peacefully and speaking kindly.”
“Bhuta Yajna emphasizes the importance of taking care of plants and animals. Animals should never be harmed and must be fed and given water. Plants, which provide us with food and other benefits, should be watered regularly.”
Planting trees and cultivating their own kitchen garden together with their teacher has been a favorite activity. Rooted in the ancient gurukula system, this modern curriculum taught in village settings rests upon eternal principles.
In Amritapuri ashram, Amma often tells stories to the ashramites of ancient rishis and their way of leading gurukulas. Amma describes the magnificent educational system which thrived long ago:
“In the gurukulas of the ancient rishis, where the disciples lived with a Master, serving him and studying their lessons, there was no such thing as students writing notes or sitting in class with their heads plunged into textbooks. The disciples simply sat gazing at the Master as he spoke. That was all. There were no notes or textbooks. Whatever the Master said went straight to their hearts. This was possible because of the deep bond that had been forged between the Master and his disciples. The Master’s way of disciplining his disciples was not done unwisely in a forcing or controlling way; on the contrary, it was a relationship born out of true love and understanding. The Master truly cared for his disciples and they in turn showed their love and respect by caring deeply for him. It was not respect born out of fear, but out of deep love. The Master opened the door of his heart to his disciples.
He welcomed and accepted them wholeheartedly without any reservations. The Master’s openness and selflessness made the disciples receptive and humble in his presence. Even though the Master was a treasure chest of knowledge, he was also very humble. He didn’t have the attitude that, ‘I am the master and you are my disciples, so you’d better do whatever I say, or I’ll punish you.’ The disciples were free to ask the Master any questions if they needed to clear their doubts. Because the Master was the embodiment of knowledge he could dispel their doubts both through theory and practice.”
The excerpt can be found in Awaken Children, volume 8.