Article by Dr Raghuram Y.S. MD (Ay) and Dr Manasa, B.A.M.S
‘The mediocre teacher tells, the good teacher explains, the superior teacher demonstrates, the great teacher inspires’ – William Arthur Ward
In Kannada language, there is a famous quote –
‘Guruvina Gulaamanaaguva Varegoo Doreyadanna Mukuti’.
Meaning – ‘Surrendering to the ideal, well learned and inspiring teacher is the easiest way to attain salvation’.
Thus it becomes important that we find good and ideal teachers in our lives that show us the true values of life and inspire us to do good deeds and lead a noble and virtuous life. Lucky ones get such teachers.
In Ayurveda such an ideal and inspiring teacher is called Aapta. Aapta actually means the one who is close to your soul. Thus an ideal teacher lives in your soul and moulds you in the best possible way.
The teachings of an Aapta are also ideal, flawless and true to every word. Therefore the teachings of an Aapta are called ‘Aapta Vachana’ or ‘Aaptopadesha’ or ‘Shabda’.
‘A good teacher can inspire hope, ignite the imagination, and instill a love of learning’ – Brad Henry
In Ayurveda, treatise authors are called as Aapta. They have to be pure and dedicated so that the treatise becomes worth following.
Apta lakshana: Characteristics of an ideal teacher / Treatise writer: (Aapta)
Raja Tamobhyaam nirmuktaha –
‘Rajo Tamobhyaam Nirmuktaha’ means being devoid of Raja and Tama i.e. the morbid factors (doshas) of the mind. This means to tell that the aapta is devoid of mind morbidities, dualities and fluctuations.
Raja and Tama are said to be the doshas of mind. The fluctuant, anxious and confused nature of man is due to these two morbidities. When they are in normalcy, they constitute the basic mind constitutions. When they get vitiated, they disturb the mind and hence the body. Raja and Tama morbidity of mind is said to be the cause of all the mind related diseases. All high and low end emotions, aggression, motivation and de-motivation and many other higher faculties are under the control of raja and tama gunas. It is very difficult to get rid of these two gunas, i.e. doshas. We are always under the influence of one or the other of the raja or tamo gunas. Those who get rid of these 2 doshas are said to be divine, godly and saintly.
The Aaptas attain the unperturbed and unadulterated knowledge (knowledge in its true and pure form) on the virtue of their tapo bala (immense strength and virtues gained by following meditation and other noble activities). With the strength of the knowledge gained by Tapascharya, the aaptas completely get rid of rajo guna and tamo guna and thus obtain purity of mind. Since they have attained freedom from the clutches of raja and tama gunas and devoid of deformities or imbalances of mind, they are called aaptas.
Yehsaam trikaalam amalam jgnaanam avyaahatam sadaa –
The aaptas will have a clear-cut knowledge of Trikala i.e. 3 time periods namely Bhuta Kaala (past), Vartamaana Kaala (present) and Bhavishyat Kaala (future). Therefore Aaaptaas are great visionaries. They gain their knowledge from extraordinary visionary and extra-sensory perception and interpret the knowledge (teach) in its true and unadulterated sense.
An ideal author is well disciplined, well behaved and gentle
Aapta is highly intellectual. They are studded with immense knowledge in a comprehensive, full and pure form.
Teshaam vaakyam asamshayam –
Anything said, preached or taught by these ideal teachers or aaptas are true by nature. The apta vachana shall not be doubted or questioned. They are true to precision.
Satyam vakshyante –
Aaptas always speak truth and nothing but truth. The truth naturally comes to them since they are devoid of raja and tama gunas.
Avitarka smruti vibhaagavido –
Aaptas (or ideal teachers) have un-debatable and précised memory and differential knowledge (i.e. the knowledge that helps in clear demarcation of between good and bad things). They definitely know all the padarthas (materials and objects of creation) in their fullest form.
Nishpreeti upataapa darshinaha –
The ideal teachers are impartial. They neither display love, affection or intimacy to particular student or students nor display hatred or anger. They consider all their students alike and teach them with an impartial attitude.
Swa karmanyo abhiyuktaha –
Aptas are always engaged in their own works and do not interfere with the business of other people nor will display undue interest in them.
Raga dwesha vivarjitaha –
The aptas are devoid of emotional highs like attachment, emotions, hatredness etc
The aaptas do not have any enemies.
Poojitaha sadbhihi –
Aaptas are worshiped and respected by all good and noble people. They are held in the society with high regards.
Yathaartha vaktaa –
Aaptaas speak and tell things ‘as they are’ in their true form, without contaminating the content.
‘Ideal teachers are those who use themselves as bridges over which they invite their students to cross, then having facilitated their crossing, joyfully collapse, encouraging them to create bridges of their own’ – Nikos Kazantzakis
The teachings and preaching, instructions or words of wisdom given by these ideal teachers (or Aaptas) is called Aaatopadesha. It is also called Aapta Vachana, Aapta shruti, Shabda or Aagama.
Aptopadesha is considered as one of the Karanas i.e. tools of learning or gaining yathartha gnana (direct, comprehensive and unadulterated knowledge). It is one among the Pramanas i.e. testimony of knowledge.
Since Aptopadesh has come from the preaching of teachers who are devoid of raja and tama gunas, they become pramanas.
The documented teachings of these Aaptas become theoretical references and valuable treatises.
Gnaayate anena iti Pramaanam.
Anything which helps us to learn (tools of learning) is called knowledge. Knowledge is a Pramana. Therefore Aaptopadesha is a Pramana being a source of knowledge.
Just before Finishing –
Teacher and Student relationship is an ideal and divine relationship. It is a give and take phenomenon which runs in cycle. Everything we do and achieve in life comes from the knowledge given to us by our teachers. This relationship has run over generations since time immemorial. A dedicated teacher will create a responsible and ideal student. It depends on our destiny to find a ‘good and ideal teacher’ who can extract the best essence out of us and show us the right path way of living, who shows the real metal in us. This article intends to give an account of the ‘qualities of an ideal teacher’ as explained in Ayurvedic treatises.
‘A good teacher is like a candle – it consumes itself to light the way for others’ – Mustafa Kemal Ataturk
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