Modern education produces capable, intelligent, smart and efficient individuals, whereas the ancient Indian education system nurtured a holistic vision and created an ennobling attitude, which made a discernible difference in society. In ancient India, the students studied both secular and spiritual knowledge which were never divided into watertight compartments, as we see today. The spiritual scriptures of India covered an array of subjects like geography, history, sociology, geology, astronomy, geometry, astrology and so on. Scriptures on non-spiritual subjects like medicine, the art of warfare, economics, politics, architecture, and performing arts, elaborated upon ethical values. Women were given equal rights in education and teaching. Students would reside together as equals, irrespective of their economic or social standing. This paved the way for mutual camaraderie and respect.
Swami Chinmayananda sought to complement the positive aspects of modern education with ancient wisdom. He made a bold attempt to create a system of education that integrates the best of both. He knew that children were ‘the very cream of our generation and they are the rulers and makers of tomorrow.’ Since the future of the nation and the protection of its culture and tradition depended on the younger generation, it was imperative to give them a healthy physical and mental atmosphere for growth and ingrain in them love for all living beings, patriotism and pride in one’s heritage.
The ‘Chinmaya’ experience of education started off as an ‘experiment in education,’ matured into the ‘Chinmaya Vision of Education’ and concretised as the ‘Chinmaya Education Movement.’ The Movement is one of Chinmaya Mission’s most valuable contributions to society. From its humble beginnings on May 20, 1965, in Kollengode, Kerala (India), it now encompasses over 88 Chinmaya Schools and Colleges, the Chinmaya International Residential School (CIRS) in India, and the first Chinmaya Vidyalaya outside India’s borders, in Trinidad (West Indies).
Nearing 50 years of establishment, growth, and expansion, the Chinmaya Mission’s academic institutions in India, administered by the CCMT (Central Chinmaya Mission Trust) Education Cell have seen over one million students walk through their halls and graduate through their doors. In the year 2012, there were over 85,000 students enrolled, over 5,000 dedicated faculty members, and over 1,000 administrative staff members.
The resounding success of the Chinmaya Education Movement has been primarily due to its unique vision of offering academic education complemented with spiritual knowledge.