Everybody was enthusiastic about the Initiation, an exclusive workshop for school teachers. The slogan for the workshop was Inspire, Ignite, Innovate. The teachers didn’t mind at all staying after school late for this session. They were happily chatting and enjoying their snacks.
Amrita Vidyalayam schools are more than just educational institutions. Created with Amma’s blessings and Sankalpa, they have immense value in preserving the culture and developing values in children, based on ancient Indian traditions.
In this age, when the world is changing so fast and India is getting so influenced by the West, it is very important to preserve the traditional values. The change is happening so fast that for young people it must be difficult to adjust to it, to discriminate and keep from getting influenced by everything. Children whose minds are not prepared for this sudden change might get confused and lost in the seeming availability of anything. They can quickly lose any security they had from the old value system, where qualities of self-control and discipline mattered. It’s of the utmost importance to discriminate the changes in the world, to strengthen the mind and especially the heart. The Indian ancient ideals of self-sacrifice, reverence for life, and happiness found within must be kept alive at all costs.
Amrita Vidyalayam schools aim to develop a sacred center within each child that gives them the strength and security they need in life. This is a unique emphasis in a modern educational system. Amma often says that education should encompass two aspects: Education for Living provides a foundation to achieve adequate wealth. Education for Life provides a foundation to achieve a happy life of lasting peace that transcends the mutations of the world.
The word ‘initiation’ is derived from the Sanskrit root dā (to give) and kṣi (to destroy). Alternately, it derives from the verb root dīkṣ (to consecrate). These ideas coalesce around the initiation of the disciple by the guru. Initiation is a rite marking entrance into a new group or society, at which point the initiate is ‘reborn’ into a new role. Both teachers and students are uniquely fortunate at the Amrita Vidyalayam schools to have this shared opportunity to be initiated under the guidance and presence of Amma.
Most of the Amrita Vidyalayam schools are run and taught by women, including many brahmacharinis. It is amazing to see how Amma empowers Indian women, even as She miraculously uplifts them. Amma has placed the education of Indians, basically the Indian future, squarely in the hands of the women. In the Amrita Vidyalayam schools, women have the power to change the future of the nation. Indian children still have so much sweetness and innocence; it must be protected at all costs. Amrita Vidyalayam teachers are immeasurably blessed to have this opportunity. Theirs is a most sacred mission to nurture the divine souls in their care, like so many flowers needing only love and light to bloom in riot on trackless heights.
Mrs. Lakshmi of Secunderabad’s Amrita Vidyalayam explains: “We could find many jobs outside, yet Amrita is unique with the presence of a guiding light and with the compassion and love that Amma and the institution carries. I sincerely yearn only to serve here at Amrita.”
The purpose of the Initiation workshop was to inspire teachers to find each child’s uniqueness and to ignite that child’s enthusiasm using innovative methods in teaching. It was emphasized that each child is an individual, and how a teacher, by inspiring and encouraging the child, brings out his or her unique talent.
The facilitator beautifully narrated a story to describe the initiation of children into Amrita Culture: Each child arrives like a mystery box with puzzle pieces. Some of the pieces are broken, some missing, and some hidden. But it is only the magic of the teacher’s Heart that can sort it out and let the child see that it already has what it needs to unravel the great mystery. And what is required for this insoluble conundrum? The Heart.
A short meditation, Yoga Nidra, stress management tips, core asanas to prevent stress, and chair yogasanas, were the remaining elements to complete the workshop.
The facilitator also remarked on the need to feel inspired. Inspirational people are not those who have not faced obstacles but more likely the ones who have persevered despite their obstacles. They may have failed many times, yet they came back. She highlighted the great importance and the need for teachers at this critical time. We all want to be great teachers who both create and allow the opportunity and the means for students to learn. For such a weighty responsibility, it is important to infuse our lives with the rich reverberations that come from all sides and at all times. We each have something utterly unique to impart from our own perspective that no one else can offer.
In conclusion, we were taught simple but useful stretching and relaxation techniques, nothing too demanding, since most of us have little enough time already as householders. A few simple techniques that won’t be overwhelming are all we need. Those of us who did not find this to be an inspirational and refreshing day were not to be found anywhere!