Today, 13 September 2019, I got a spring on my feet – I felt my age got reduced miraculously by four and half decades. I visited my high school -literally every nook and corner – at the invitation of the present Headmaster Swami Muralidharananda Maharaj. On this year’s Teacher’s Day, Ramakrishna Mission Boys’ Home High School at Rahara was awarded the trophy for Best School in West Bengal. Criteria for selection was not just academic standard, practices and performance in Board examinations, but also quality of alumni. As an alumnus and one who spent 6 years of his formative life in that school, it was an honour to talk to students in this hallowed precinct.
I had the good fortune of spending time with Swami Jayananda, Secretary Maharaj, Head of RK Mission branch of Rahara. He is embodiment of peace with one’s own soul. The branch under his guidance not only runs high school, but also primary school, top notch graduate college, BEd college, ITI and above all orphanage with 600 orphan students.
It was my sheer luck to get blessings from Swami Smaranananda, Present President of Ramakrishna Mission Order. Guru Maharaj happened to be there at Rahara in connection with a Deeksha programme. It was a moment to be cherished.
It was a pleasant surprise meeting my Maths teacher, Shri Alok Niyogi. He is now in his 80s but is still the same upright, sharp and brilliant teacher. He used to discover mathematical problems that one would find in none of the text books and they were enough to challenge your intellect. He literally used to play brain-game with his students. One has to be really fortunate to be associated with teachers of such caliber and dedication.
In my talk to the students, I focused especially on my take on my formative days in the school.
Sense of ethics was ingrained with stories from our classical ancient texts. Ethics adds extra muscle to our spinal chords. It allows us to pursue bigger objectives beyond just fame, money, recognition and positions.
Knowledge of great works and history of our ancestors, instilled a pride in ourselves. And pride in one’s self gives confidence to face the world.
We were challenged to imagine by making us face many many innovative problems and tasks. One should dream. But dream brings vague ideas of our goals. Imagination gives contours and shapes to our dreams. Learning to dream and imagine is essential ingredient of innovative ideas in our professional lives.
Our teachers were fastidious for rigour and exactitude. You just cannot score high marks. You not only have to be thorough but you should present your ideas in step wise systematic and logically correct fashion. This training in rigour comes handy to realise your ideas, imaginations in practical processes, products and innovations in later part of life and career.
These qualities can mostly be instilled in our school days. In later part of education we learn more and more information. But your personality traits get refined in school days.
In my personal life and professional career, I faced many difficulties and hurdles. But that I still not lost my moral bearing and purpose of life, is probably can be traced to my days in my school.
My school now has approximately 2700 students, of whom 600 are orphan boys, whose every need is taken care of by Mission and many donors. And they carry out this “seva” silently, hardly known beyond the perimeter of immediate surroundings. But this is the character of Ramakrishna Mission.
I am amazed at the management skill of Ramakrishna order. They run more than 200 centres all across the world, many medical institutions and facilities, colleges, schools and many many more activities. Just mind boggling. And they have only asset : teachings of Swami Vivekananda. This is a classic example : if your goals benefit people and touch their hearts, whole world will conspire to stand by your side.
(Special thanks to Utpal Bhaumik for coordinating the school visit and for the valuable photographs)
Tapan Misra is a Distinguished Scientist with Indian Space research Organisation (ISRO) and heads the Office of Innovations Management at ISRO headquarters in Bangalore. Earlier, he was Director Space Applications Centre. For a brief period he had additional charge of Director, Physical Research Laboratory, Ahmedabad.