A common space for harmonic peacemakers
Peace [Shanti in Sanskrit] –a word signifying the state of harmony in a holistic perspective, calls for peak of human dynamics and proactive co-operation of all fellow-beings. Bliss, calmness, serenity and tranquility are the words synonymous to it.
Thomas Stearns Eliot [1934-65] –a US born eminent English lyricist, social critic, Nobel laureate  and composer of famous poem, The West Land, wonderfully opines that Shanti is the state to accord understanding that is worth consideration. But, which type of understanding? It is, in one way or the other, the understanding of co-operation. Therefore, the state of peace is the source of origin of mutual understanding, of co-operation, and a clarion call for prosperity of one and all –in the larger interest of humanity. Hence, it is not an ordinary state. Rather, the state of peace is extraordinary. That is why; Shanti occupies pride of place in the Vedic prayers, which is well illustrated in the Shanti Prakaran [peace-perception], as a predominant maxim [Mool-Mantra] calling for peace in every nook and corner of the universe:
“Om Dyau Shanti Rantariksha Gwam
Shanti Prithvi Shanti Rapah
Shanti Roshadhayah Shanti Vanas Patayah
Shanti Vishwed Devah Shanti Brahma
Shanti Shanti Reva Shanti Sa Ma Shanti Redhi
Om Shanti Shanti Shanti Om”
“Unto the Heaven be peace, unto the Sky and the Earth be peace; peace be unto the Water, unto the herbs and trees be Peace; unto all the gods be peace, unto Brahma and unto all be Peace; and may we realize that peace.”
Doubtless, peace is vitally important in life. It is indispensable for creating atmosphere of mutual understanding and harmony for common development. It is, therefore, a crucial link in the chain of life.
Education is a process that continues till the end of life. It is a lifelong process leading a human being to realize and develop virtues already present within his genome, and achieve prosperity in life on the basis of these intrinsic virtues.
Epithets like knowledge, skill and talent, frequently eluded to education, are, in fact, in-born qualities, which remain dormant in man for continuous exploration and enhancement. For the realization and proper development of these qualities direction and guidance are necessary and only a teacher [Guru] can do this. The indispensability and importance of education in life are known to all. It is the education and education only, which accords identity to man –makes him a true human being.
Peace and education must go forward simultaneously. Both of them aim all-round development of human beings. Education brings out what already exists within for the unfolding of personality while the state of peace creates atmosphere and accords certainty to this act. Further, both of them call for proactive co-operation and manage to gather it. Such is the vibe and virtue of peace and education.
It is for this reason that various aspects related peace and education [peace education] are being discussed and analyzed regularly through symposiums and seminars at different levels –national and international, particularly in colleges and universities and at social forums all over the world. Scholars of repute and subject specialist are discussing the way and means to make it an essential part of educational process and about pedagogies to be adopted for the same. In many institutions work has been started. But, a lot has to be done in this regard. The process must go on continuously and in a planned manner.
Although scholars and subject specialists are in agreement for inclusion of peace education in syllabi, they also cede to its urgency, yet they have not been able to suggest a cogent action plan for the same.
In this regard I am of the opinion that the work of imparting peace education should start from the higher secondary level. It is for the simple reason that peer pressure, interpersonal jealousies and competitive rivalries amongst students begin building up at this level of education giving rise to acrimony, disputes and sharp differences of opinion culminating in chaos and disharmony.
Therefore, initiative must be taken from this stage and as first lesson students should be familiarized with life, works and views of leading lights of world peace that brought harmony in society through love, compassion, non-violence and practicing in their own personal lives what they preached to others. Along with this, initiatives should be taken by the community of teachers to train students to settle their differences and resolve disputes by way of arbitration in primary stage itself. In this regard, the following suggestion would be helpful:
As the higher secondary level is the most important phase of the entire educational process, it can, therefore, play a vital role in a fundament change in the education system. More than one million higher secondary schools impart education all over the world. In India the number of such schools is more than 1, 20, 000 [one lakh twenty thousand] in which approximately 2, 00, 00, 000 [two cores] students are enrolled.
Further, at higher level of studies, in colleges and universities, there is a need of special pedagogy-based curriculum. Both –theoretical and practical aspects should be the essential part of that curriculum and it should appear as a combination of art and science subjects. In addition, the course curriculum could be prepared as per the demand of space and time of national-regional and global contexts.
As a whole, there is a need to take the work for peace education relentlessly in a planned way, as top end responsibility. There is no other way available to accomplish this task. The task is not difficult, but it demands sincerity and commitment, sacrifice and above all a holistic outlook for the welfare of all beings.