Saturday, September 4, 2010


In ancient India, under the gurukul system of education, the pupils used to reside at the teacher’s (guru) place (ashram). Before that the guru used to formally accept a pupil as his disciple (shishya) and after that the education was offered free of cost. In most cases, the gurukuls were supported by the ruling king. At the end of the term and after successful completion of the learning, the pupil would ask the guru, what he would offer him as a gurudakshina (fees). Here is a story of a modern guru who was offered a car as gurudakshina by his students.

Pratap Sir was walking to his college with a mixed feeling of happiness and sorrow. He was happy because he was to retire today after 35 years of his service as a teacher. Throughout his career he was known as an honest and upright teacher. Somewhere deep in the heart he also felt sorrow because he would miss all colleagues and especially the students. He reached the college dot at 0955 h. The send-off function started at 1000 h. And lo ! there was a big surprise. His students offered him a brand new car as a parting gift. They looked so happy. All of them had contributed towards the purchase. Pratap Sir was also happy to note the gratuitousness of the students. He didn’t know driving. After the finale, one of the students drove him home in the car. The car was shining, parked in front of his house.

Sushma, his wife greeted him as soon as he stepped out of the car. Neighbors came one by one and congratulated. His only daughter, Aditi, an engineer, worked in a private company. She came home in the evening. As usual she smiled at baba (father) and asked whose car was that. Pratap told the story. She didn’t seem to be happy. It was quite a surprise for him.

In the evening, he opened the topic on the dining table. He asked Aditi, how did she like the car. Baba you shouldn’t have accepted it, said Aditi forthrightly. We are living in the age when the integrity of the educational institutions and the teachers is in doubt. The other day, did you not read the news of one educational institute assisting the students in copying during the examination. And last year? You remember, some parents took morcha (procession) to your college because their wards were not allowed to copy. Accepting this gift you gave a chance to your detractors doubt your integrity. How will you respond, if someone accuses you accepted the car from the students as a gratification for allowing them to do some illegal work?

The seriousness of the issue was effectively brought home by his daughter. Pratap Sir felt befallen. He couldn’t sleep whole night. In the morning, when he sat in the bed and prayed, something dawned on him. The gloom vanished.

After finishing the morning chores, he rang to one of his students to come home. He asked the student to drive the car to the nearby anathashram (orphan house). He gifted the car to the ashram. His heart was filled with satisfaction and pride, while walking back home.


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Independent Professional: Experienced educator and management consultant for engineering educational institutions, researcher, trainer, technical consultant on sustainable technologies, related to cement manufacturing and characterisation, using industrial and agricultural wastes in cement and concrete, durability of concrete and fuel cell power.