The task of preparing teaching-learning material for value-oriented education is enormous. There is, first, the idea that value-oriented education should be exploratory rather than prescriptive, and that the teaching-learning material should provide to the learners a growing experience of exploration. Secondly, it is rightly contended that the proper inspiration to turn to value-orientation is provided by biographies, autobiographical accounts, personal anecdotes, epistles, short poems, stories of humour, stories of human interest, brief passages filled with pregnant meanings, reflective short essays written in well-chiselled language, plays, powerful accounts of historical events, statements of personal experiences of values in actual situations of life, and similar other statements of scientific, philosophical, artistic and literary expression.
Thirdly, we may take into account the contemporary fact that the entire world is moving rapidly towards the synthesis of the East and the West, and in that context, it seems obvious that our teaching-learning material should foster the gradual familiarisation of students with global themes of universal significance as also those that underline the importance of diversity in unity. This implies that the material should bring the students nearer to their cultural heritage, but also to the highest that is available in the cultural experiences of the world at large.
Fourthly, an attempt should be made to select from Indian and world history such examples that could illustrate the theme of the upward progress of humankind. The selected research material could be multi-sided, and it should be presented in such a way that teachers can make use of it in the manner and in the context that they need in specific situations that might obtain or that can be created in respect of the students.
The research teams at the Sri Aurobindo International Institute of Educational Research (SAIIER) have attempted the creation of the relevant teaching-learning material, and they have decided to present the same in the form of monographs. It appears that there are three major powers that uplift life to higher and higher normative levels, and the value of these powers, if well illustrated, could be effectively conveyed to the learners for their upliftment. These powers are those of illumination, heroism and harmony.
It may be useful to explore the meanings of these terms -illumination, heroism and harmony - since the aim of these monographs is to provide material for a study of what is sought to be conveyed through these three terms.
We offer here exploratory statements in regard to these three terms. Illumination is that ignition of inner light in which meaning and value of substance and life-movement are seized, under-stood, comprehended, held, and possessed, stimulating and inspiring guided action and application and creativity culminating in joy, delight, even ecstasy. The width, depth and height of the light and vision determine the degrees of illumination, and when they reach the splendour and glory of synthesis and harmony, illumination ripens into wisdom. Wisdom, too, has varying degrees that can uncover powers of knowledge and action, which reveal unsuspected secrets and unimagined skills of art and craft of creativity and effectiveness.
Heroism is, essentially, inspired force and self-giving and sacrifice in the operations of will that is applied to the quest, realisation and triumph of meaning and value against the resistance of limitations and obstacles by means of courage, battle and adventure. There are degrees and heights of heroism deter-mined by the intensity, persistence and vastness of sacrifice.
Heroism attains the highest states of greatness and refinement when it is guided by the highest wisdom and inspired by the sense of service to the ends of justice and harmony, as well as when tasks are executed with consummate skill.
Harmony is a progressive state and action of synthesis and equilibrium generated by the creative force of joy and beauty and delight that combines and unites knowledge and peace and stability with will and action and growth and development. Without harmony, there is no perfection, even though there could be maximisation of one or more elements of our nature. When illumination and heroism join and engender relations of mutuality and unity, each is perfected by the other and creativity is endless.
Socrates stands in the Western world as an inspiring figure of a quest that wants to examine life, even at the peril of death. For Socrates, death is only a passage in the immortal life of a soul, a passage to the company of the great seers and sages, of the great heroic souls who live immortally in the world of universality and to converse with whom is indescribable joy. Socrates is a seeker and a teacher; he is a kindler and an awakener, a lover of illumination and a heroic fighter who is pre-pared to die rather than succumb to a life in which quest is denied. When we read Apology, Crito and Phaedo, we receive an immortal image of a Teacher who shines by inherent light and whose rays of light shed their luster on the entire history of Western Thought, and indeed on the entire history of World-Thought. It is to Plato that we owe so much for leaving to humanity a living testimony of the one who knew how to live, why to live and even how to die, so that knowledge may triumph, heroism may always remain triumphant.
This monograph is an attempt to give to young seekers of the world a glimpse of that rare sage of illumination and that hero of Truth as also the inspirer of Platonic Utopia in which knowledge can stand as a ruler and in which justice can be truly attained in perfect harmony.
A stout man with a flat face, broad nose, thick lips, heavy beard, shabby clothes and an unduly large paunch, which he hoped to reduce by dancing - this is how Socrates has been described. Not a very flattering description of a man commonly considered the founder of Western philosophy. Although far from the Greek ideal of beauty, his face shows the honesty, courage and humour which has come to be called "Socratic". Plato speaks of him as all glorious within' while Alcibiades, another disciple of Socrates, com-pares him to a statue of Selinus2 - ugly on the outside but full of beautiful golden statues of the gods inside.
Socrates and his Times
Every great mind is to a great extent the product of his Age and environment he breathes in, for he is influenced by the ideas, manners, and social and political conditions prevalent at that time. And in return, one can say that that greatness leaves some-thing of itself as a cumulation to that civilization that nurtured him, making it that much greater. But there are greatnesses that make a distinct difference, more than just a fractional addition in the chronology of events, who step out of the shadow of time as landmarks which herald a major change in the history of mankind. To understand Socrates better, it would be useful to dwell on the historical atmosphere that existed at the time of his life. In the words of Shelley, "The period which intervened between the birth of Pericles and the death of Aristotle4 is undoubtedly, whether considered in itself or with reference to the effect which it produced upon the subsequent destinies of civilized man, the most memorable in the history of the world.
After the defeat of the Persians5 in 479 B.C., Athens dominated this period because she had won the allegiance of the other city-states by her leadership in saving Greece during the Persian invasions, which had threatened to destroy their civilization. To protect themselves against future Persian invasions, they formed the Delian Confederacy under Athenian leadership. While the other city-states contributed money towards its funds, Athens contributed ships, which led to its control over the other city-states, and the confederacy eventually transformed into an Athenian empire. This marked in single ink the preliminary sketches of the destiny of Athens prepared by Fate and brought forward by the predecessors of Pericles; it was left to him to fill in the colours, which would announce it for posterity as the Golden Age or the Age of Pericles.
Under the leadership of Pericles, commander-in-chief of Athens, elected and re-elected for almost 30 years by the Athenians, the polis (city) of Athens reached the zenith of its political power and cultural achievements, and every aspect of the collective life prospered and developed. In his childhood and youth, he received music lessons from Damon,6 the most famous music teacher of his time, he learnt literature from Pythocleides, he absorbed philosophy through the lectures of Zeno,' and he had Anaxagoras8 for a friend and teacher who uplifted his mind to loftier purposes. From him Pericles learnt the art of eloquence and found within himself a calmness, which could not be shaken even in the most trying circumstance. It is said that Pericles, too caught up in the affairs of state to keep in touch with his mentor, on hearing that Anaxagoras was struggling with old age and starvation, hastened to make amends and with great humility heard him as be chided, those who have occasion for the lamp supply it with oil.
**Contents and Sample Pages**
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