Remembering K.G Saiyidain On The Day

Greater Kashmir

The purpose of education from the very beginning is to think with how little we can manage our lives

On this day I pay tribute to one of the great teachers of all times K.G Saiyidain. He was a director of education Jammu and Kashmir state from 1938-1945. He has written world class books on the subject of education and is recognised as educational thinker at international level. He was a visiting Professor of Education to leading Universities of the world.
The first K.G Saiyidain memorial lectures were delivered in September 1974 by J.P Naik in Srinagar with which late K.G Saiyidain had a long lasting relation. We have a paper Educational Philosophy at B. Ed, M.Ed, and M.A Education level in which there is a unit on educational thinkers, but unfortunately this great thinker has been neglected. My objective in writing this article is that the board of studies while revising the education syllabus will give a serious thought to it.
K.G Saiyidain delivered a convocation address at Amar Singh College in the year 1942 on the theme “First things First”. Addressing the students he said if you have the integrity of spirit you must learn to lead intellectually strenuous lives; you must study deeply and widely, cultivating the capacity to appreciate meanings instead of memorizing words and breaking through the rigid and narrow specialism of curricular subjects into the domain of knowledge that really illuminates. Some people feel education at the end leads to fruitless search for employment, but the argument ignores the fact  under no circumstances is a stupid or culturally barren mind preferable to an intelligent and cultured mind. Our educated  class have often chosen the lazy path of least resistance failing to forge new lines of activity with courage and initiative . If education could really train our minds and character properly, we should not be so helpless and hopeless as we are often inclined to be. The person who has a keen desire to bring a desirable social change in a society must have intellectual clarity, for confused thinking is as harmful as moral dishonesty; he must have courage, physical as well mental, to brave opposition, ridicule and unpopularity. He must possess idealism, he must be sensitive to the needs and sorrows of his fellowmen; above all must possess what Aldous Huxley has called the quality of “non-attachment” and Iqbal called Faqr. To work with a sense of detachment does not require renunciation of the world but the capacity to rise above the temptations of the wealth and power. Nothing produces greater fear and timidity in man than attachment to these material objects and selfish ambitions, for the constant dread of losing them haunts him day and night. Love of money has been called “root of all evils” because it leads to all kinds of unscrupulous actions and unworthy compromises and makes it impossible for the covetous person to place first things first which is the highest and the most significant moral imperative.
Once K.G Saiydain went to meet Tagore in his ashram and made the following observation in his dairy. To quote Tagore  a group of older students came to me with a complaint that a large metal vessels full of food are difficult to handle, these have to be dragged, resulting in damaging their bottoms, which dirties the floor. I pointed out to them that instead of finding some solution themselves why they have come to me with a complaint. They were waiting to see that I should relieve them of their inconvenience, rather than finding the solution themselves. Why did a simple solution not come into their head that tying a piece of cotton padding under the pots would avoid friction and prevent the pot from causing holes. This incident suggests that we never learn to own responsibility and only sit back passively. In our schools we have to give a serious thought to this aspect of life from the very beginning, to develop the character of our students by giving them as much responsibility as possible so that they can be saved from the hateful habit of complaining. Feeling of dissatisfaction and desperation due to the lack of having plenty of material facilities indicates the weakness of character. It is good to have some lack of physical amenities, one has to get used to having fewer things, it is harmful to fulfil all the demands of the children for the sake of showing affection to them.
The purpose of education from the very beginning is to think with how little we can manage our lives. In spite of our educational advantage we have not learnt to distinguish between the really good things of life and the cheap tinsel which dazzles the eyes or appeals to the appetites. And even when we do theoretically distinguish between them, our practical life remains at the inferior level. The highest function of education is to teach our students place first things first and to mould the pattern of our thought and conduct accordingly.
Author is Coordinator, Institute of Correspondence Education University of Kashmir. He can be reached at