Guru Devo Bhava - A tribute to my teachers by Fr. Valerian Castelino


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Moodubelle, 28 December 2009: St. Lawrence High School that was founded on 2nd June 1959 is completing fifty years of its existence this year. The celebration of the Golden Jubilee will be held on 28th, 29th and 30th December 2009. On this occasion I along with thousands of students who had benefitted from the high school would like to remember our dear teachers who were our role models and helped us in every way to become intelligent students and good human beings. This is a small tribute that I would like to present to all my teachers.

Before entering the portals of St. Lawrence High School, I had to go through the higher primary education in the Church Aided Higher Primary School. I would like to mention few names of the teachers in the Higher Primary School who gave me the light of education. These teachers, who taught me right from 1st to 8th standard include: Edward D’Sa, Sadananda Rao, Boniface Barboza (Benny Master), Victor Rebello, Lawrence D’Souza, Emmanuel D’Souza, Victor Martis, Muddanna Master, Joseph Castelino, William D’Sa and lady teachers- Lilly, Benny D’Souza, Eliza D’Souza and Eugene teacher.

Fr. Valerian Castelino

After completing the higher primary education, I joined St. Lawrence High School for New 8th standard in 1962. When i joined the high school, Deju Uchil was the Head Master. He was a sincere and honest teacher. Under his leadership other teachers provided very good education to the students including me. These teachers were: Edward D’Sa, Mukunda Puranik, T.V. Moraes, Ms. Hezel Rego, Vasudeva Rao, Vasudeva Bhat, Victor Rebello and Ms.Rama Shetty. These teachers had won the hearts and minds of the students by their sincere efforts and hard work. Along with classroom education, these teachers taught us gardening, sports and cultural activities. Encouraging students in developing their personality through various activities was one of the important characteristics of a teacher.

While we were in school, there was no practice of celebrating the ‘Teachers’ Day’ and honouring the teachers for all that they were doing for the betterment of the students. However, by celebrating the Teachers’ Day on the birthday of the Second President of India, Sarvapalli Radhakrishnana on 5th September each year since mid-1960s, the students have got an opportunity to pay respect to their teachers.

On Teachers’ Day on 5th September each year, the students organize programmes in honour of their beloved teachers. A passage in the Upanishad clearly defines the position of a teacher thus: “Guru Brahma, Guru Vishnu, Guru Devo Maheshwara, Guru sakshath para Brahma thasmei Shri Guruve namah.” In this passage, the teacher has been compared to God and praised. In another passage of the Upanishad, “Guru Devo Bhava” the teacher has been praised as God. St. Francis of Assisi when asked about his opinion about the teachers was believed to have said: “If I meet an Angel and a teacher at the same time, I would greet the teacher first as the teacher is the image of Christ.” The same feeling has been expressed by Thyagaraj.

By providing a place of honour to the teachers by the students, they shower their love, care and knowledge on them. A passage in Rigveda contains a prayer to God to lead us from falsehood to truth, from darkness to light and from death to eternal life. The teachers endeavour to do the same thing to their students by imparting knowledge so that they could proceed from falsehood to truth and from the darkness of ignorance to the light of knowledge.

In this modern age, it is important for the teachers to realize the responsibility of their position as the providers of knowledge to their students that would help in shaping their lives and personality. It is important to teachers to make introspection and ask the question whether they fulfil their responsibility as teachers. If the answer is ‘yes’ they are truly honest and sincere. A teacher is a transformer, who transforms the lives of the students by providing them necessary knowledge that would lead to enlightenment. A teacher must remember that he is first a student and then a teacher. A teacher should gain sufficient knowledge of a particular subject that he has to teach by reading quite a lot. Those teachers who enlighten the students rather than just transferring information are respected and honoured by their students. A teacher should inspire his students rather than just becoming an information provider.

As St. Lawrence High School celebrates its Golden Jubilee, it is important for all the teachers to make a commitment to the students and the institution that they would become ideal teachers keeping the interest of the students and the institution on top of their list of priority. The students who have gone through the portals of the high school have made their name in various fields such as education, banking, legal profession, medicine, engineering, business, etc. This was chiefly due to the fact that the teachers of the high school have been inspiring the students through their own example and hard work. I sincerely hope that this tradition will continue and St. Lawrence High School will achieve greater height as an ideal educational institution where the future responsible citizens of India are being formed.

(Fr. Valerian Castelino, who was a student of St. Lawrence High School in 1960’s joined priesthood and has been working in Chikmagalur Diocese. He worked as a teacher and later as Head Master of St. Joseph’s Boys High School in Chikmagalur. Presently he is retired and serves as a priest)

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