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Teachers – Aaj Kal

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Note : one of a blogger friend of mine , Vipul Grover, runs an initiative where in a topic is selected every month and those interested writes on the same. I thought to challenge myself by participating this month. Why I meant challenging ? Coz it is relatively easy to write on a topic we think of on our own than writing on a topic selected by another. The topic was Teachers – Aaj Kal (now and then)

This post has been published by me on the occasion of the Teachers’ Day as a part of the Blog-a-Ton 2; The second edition of the online marathon of Bloggers; where we decide and we write. To be part of the next edition, visit and start following Blog-a-ton

Mata, Pita, Guru, Deivam” (Mother, Father, Teacher, God)

This traditional phrase conveys the importance of Mother, Father and Teacher by placing them before God. In could also mean the hierarchy of roles each plays in the self-realization (God)

Next to one’s parents, teacher plays a very important role in molding an individual’s personality and thought process. In this topic, let’s analyze the role of teachers – then and now in context to Indian history.

Who is a teacher?

Dictionary definition of the word teacher is:

“A person who teaches or instructs, especially as a profession”

So that makes teacher as professional and teaching a profession.

Teaches as a profession, probably would have originated when humans from being hunters settled down to explore cultivation and in process settlements started. From then started the human exploration into various fields and subjects. Soon hierarchies of societies were formed along with various classes and sub-classes. Initially, teacher-student relation must have been similar to internship – wherein the trade is learned by the student working with the master. As the civilization evolved more domains relating to religion, warfare, metallurgy, medicine etc developed. During this evolutionary period, teaching as a profession must have formed.

In Indian context, we had the tradition of Gurukul. (In Sanskrit guru "teacher" or "master"; kul domain, from kula, "extended family")

Loosely speaking, Gurukul could be compared to a residential school, where all students stayed together and along with learning the skills from guru also shared the daily chores of life like cooking, washing clothes, cleaning the residence etc. The Guru in the traditional Gurkul system does not take fees from the student (shishyas) rather the student offer the Guru dakshina when leaving the institution after completing his studies. Gurudakshina could be either monetary or accomplishing a task wanted by the Guru.

Chanakya who was a teacher of the famous and one of the oldest universities of the world, Takshashilla University, was responsible for the creation of Mauryan Empire of India. He was a celebrated and powerful teacher who gave the world “Arthasashtra” – a treatise on governance, economic policy and military strategy.

In modern Indian context, we have Dr APJ Abdul Kalam who after his glorious stint as President of India became an honorary professor at Anna University. His passion for nurturing talent and minds of young is something to be emulated by every teacher.

‘A student spends 25,000 hours in the campus. The school must have the best of teachers who have the ability to teach, love teaching and build moral qualities’

– A P J Abdul Kalam

Then on the other scale, we also have Mayawati, the teacher turned politician who rose to become the chief minister.

Two teachers, same era but different characteristics. Well, am not saying anything further to stir any controversies. Let me be politically correct, for a change or should I say diplomatically correct?

Talking about famous teachers, one more historical personality comes in mind. Dronacharya– The legendary teacher no doubt but could also be accused of nepotism when he asked Ekalavya his finger as gurudakshina to make sure Arjuna’s skill as greatest archer was unchallenged.

Now of late we hear a lot about “monster” teachers. Teachers who mercilessly trashes students, molests them and even rapes students. On other hand, we have “sleeping” teachers – teachers who are outdated to the curriculum and advancement in science and technologies.

To tackle the “monsters” what we need is a strict law to deal with such predators. To tackle the “sleeping” teachers, the education system should mandatorily enforce refresher course for teachers to update them on the advancement in their respective domains. Refresher course should also stress on breaking the monotony that may seep into after years of teaching.

On a lighter talk, everyone will have their “hero” and “villain” teachers in their student life. In spite of my poor memory, I can recall even now a teacher who taught me in Class 1. I used to call here “bommai” teacher. Bommai in Tamil means doll. She looked like a doll for me (does that qualify as a crush?!) Even she adored me and even told my mom that I have a lovely magnetic eye! No wonder her image is still stored in my eyes! Later during my school days, I had a young Hindi teacher who played cricket with us during our class period! Thanks to her, I never learnt Hindi properly! Then during my high school days, I had a chemistry teacher who was ditto of one the stereotyped teacher characterization of Indian movies – strict but absent-minded and comedian types!

Whatever said and done, teachers play a crucial role in our life both positive and negative.

Couple of days back, I read a news from Tamil Nadu about 500 students joining together to gift a house to a teacher who taught them some 20 years back! On hearing the financial distress of the 80 year old teacher who was living in a small rented house now, the students decided to pool money and build a two storey house for him as a guru dakshina. The house will be gifted to him on teacher’s day – September 5th. One of the student recollected how the teacher used to help students in their studies after school timing without taking any fees! It was one of a really touching incident I came across of late.

So to all the teachers who molded our personality in positive ways:

Guru Brahma Gurur Vishnu
Guru Devo Maheshwaraha
Guru Saakshat Para Brahma
Tasmai Sree Gurave Namaha

The meaning:

Guru is verily the representative of Brahma, Vishnu and Shiva. He creates, sustains knowledge and destroys the weeds of ignorance. I salute such a Guru.

The fellow Blog-a-Tonics are Vipul, Rajalakshmi,Dhiman,Ranee[1] ,[2], [3], Avada, Indian Pundit, Sojo, Aneet, Pramathesh,Aativas, Sid, Pra, Ajinkya, Govind, Shilpa, Bharathi, Shankar, Mytuppence, Azad, Pawan, Pankaja, Saimanohar, Guria, Shruti, Vishnu, Nasrajan, Richa, . Click on the link check their respective posts. To be part of the next edition, visit and start following blog-a-ton

0 05 September, 2009 Salt & Pepper September 5, 2009

About the author

He is the lead man of GingerChai and plays the multi role of chief author, editor, business development and also of a chaiwala! (Tea maker!) He is the master brewer at Ginger Chai.

View all articles by Lakshmi Rajan


  1. Dhiman

    You did a complete analysis of the topic in every sense and also for the first time I am seeing mention of “monster” teachers and ways to deal them… very nice and thanks for dropping by my blog and commenting 😀

  2. Pramathesh

    Great post! Last point about gifting a house is really inspiring oneself to be teacher. nOt for a house, but for reassuring that teaching is still regarded as a noble sacred profession.

  3. shankar

    very nice post…

    I too used the same concept of matha,pitha ,guru deivam…. we think alike…

    I liked the verse…its a great verse…… and you have put it up very well….. all the best for blog-a-ton 2….

  4. Pingback: Teachers : Aaj Kal « Chronicles of a Techie

  5. Pingback: Teachers: Now and Then « Stung by the splendor of a crazy thought

  6. prashansa puranik

    ‘ it is relatively easy to write on a topic we think of on our own than writing on a topic selected by another.’ That is so true! Really nice post.I like the sterting image of the post. Giving the dictionary defination of the word teacher is an innovative Idia.the narration of your experiances and categories of teachers like monster and sleeping is very good.

  7. sharat

    some Teachers leave a permanent impression on us….and some are forgotten. even after 15-20 yrs of leaving the school I can remember some of the teachers even now…they helped shape me….and u’r piece just reminded me some of those,,,

  8. Shruti

    Hi yaar
    its a great post! sorry for reading it at last.
    “better late than never!”
    neatly written post! you have brought in the importanc of passion towards teachers!

  9. Vipul Grover

    So nicely balancd post thr rajan.. taking us frm history 2 presnt.. mentioning sum known ppl frm teaching field and thn recolecting ur own teachers, evrything done in a nice flow..
    Mata, Pita, Guru, Deivam.. indeed!

  10. Aneet

    Reply to your comment:

    Ah yes, I am actually a part time teacher, part time student! So its very much like “two face” of Batman!

  11. Post author
    Lakshmi Rajan

    @ leafless ,Prashansa ,sharat,Shilpa,Shruti,Vipul , Sai manohar

    Thanks !

    @ Ranee

    Tx for stopping by. Yes Mayawati is a teacher turned politician. Am not sure what she taught … Sculpture training ? I wud bet on that though 😉

    @ Aneet
    lol so u r a T-Man

  12. Pingback: Teachers : Now and Then… | Miles to go..

  13. Pingback: Teachers – Now and Then « SCRATCH YOUR SOUL

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