Dr.Shiben Krishen Raina

The True Purpose of Education

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A little over a decade ago, my wife and I returned from a heartwarming visit to Mumbai, where we spent two blissful weeks with our daughter. Little did we know that an extraordinary encounter awaited us at the Alwar railway station, an encounter that would leave an indelible mark on our hearts!

As we alighted from the train, laden with two heavy suitcases and a bag in our hands, a figure of wisdom and grace emerged from nowhere. Without a moment’s hesitation, the man reached out to us and took both suitcases from our weary hands. Astonished, I had not even managed to utter a word before that benevolent man spoke, “Are you Mr. Raina?” There was a familiarity in his voice, though I could not place it.

The stranger continued to carry the weighty suitcases with ease, treading all the way towards the exit-gate. Puzzled, Mrs. Raina and myself exchanged glances, wondering who this mysterious individual could be. Before I could inquire, the stranger politely responded, “You may not remember, but I remember you well, sir. I was your student a long time ago. I later became a lecturer and recently retired as a principal. I was at the station to bid farewell to someone on the same train you arrived in.”

Overwhelmed with emotion and curiosity, we boarded an auto-rickshaw arranged by this man so fondly for us.

As the auto-rickshaw navigated the busy streets of Alwar, I pondered over the significance of this unexpected chance-meeting. The stranger’s act of kindness served as a poignant reminder that real education goes beyond textbooks and exams. True education, as exemplified by this former student transcends the boundaries of time and continues to shape lives even years after the last lesson was taught.

It is easy to get disheartened in a world where selfishness and negativity seem to proliferate. However, this encounter offered a beacon of hope, dispelling the notion that there were more “bad” people than “good” in society. The adage, “If you are good, the world is good,” resounded in my thoughts, reaffirming my belief that acts of kindness have a responsive effect, inspiring others to follow suit.

The stranger’s gesture not only lightened the physical load of the suitcases but also lifted the weight of skepticism from my heart. This chance-meeting reminded me that compassion and goodness still persist in our society.In the years that followed, the memory of this unforgettable meeting remained imprinted on my mind. I came to the conclusion that the true meaning,purpose and message of education could be found out in individuals who, like that venerable figure at the Alwar railway station, make the world a better place with an act of their kindness and gentleness and thus make the society proud by their selfless actions.

The writer is former Fellow,IIAS,Shimla.

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