This process of self-analysis brings to mind the great classical thinkers of ancient times, particularly Socrates and Plato, known for having paved the way for Western philosophy. The Socratic aphorism: “Know thyself” reverberates through history and points to the essence of education, viewed as a process of recollection of inborn Ideals, thus emphasising its spiritual nature.
In the light of self-knowledge that his Master taught, Plato has given a famous analysis of the human soul in his celebrated book Republic. According to this analysis there are three parts of the individual soul. The first and most important is the spiritual part, which is the seat of wisdom and has the capacity to discriminate between right and wrong, truth and untruth, permanent and transient. The second is the will power, which is an ally of the spiritual part, unless it has been wrongly brought up by inadequate education. In that case it leads to passionate and unreasonable acts. The third is the desirous part, which is driven by feelings of lust, hunger and thirst, and is stirred by desire and pleasure. The spiritual part has the right to rule and look after the whole of the soul, while the will power should be its assistant and partner. When these two have been properly cultivated through an ideal system of education, they will be in charge of the desirous part which is, by nature, insatiable and greedy. And when the three parts carry out their respective duties, there is harmony and righteousness in the individual.
“Righteousness is not related to the external activities of man, but its sphere is a person's inner activity. This means that one should not let the parts of his soul do any job which is not their own or to become involved in another's work. He has to set them in order, according to their own function, and to become his own master and his own friend. He has to unite the three parts of his soul, as if they were the three basic keys of an octave – low, high and middle – and create a harmony out of them, making himself one out of many, self-disciplined and internally attuned."
(Republic 443 c9-e2)
Sathya Sai has often used the wordplay that EHV (Education in Human Values) is 3HV, i.e. Values for the three H’s: Heart, Head and Hands. Broadly speaking, the three parts of the platonic tripartite division of the soul correspond to the three H’s, out of which the most important is the Heart or Conscience, which should be the leader. In this light, Sathya Sai advises:
Body is like a water bubble
Mind is like a mad monkey
So, don’t follow the body
Don’t follow the mind
Follow the Conscience
For further study of the connection between Platonic Philosophy and Sathya Sai Educære, see Plato and Sathya Sai: Ideal Education and Human Values in Parallel. For an in-depth analysis of the human being according to Aristotle in connection with Vedantic philosophy, see also Aristotle on Virtue and Ethics: A Parallel with Sai Baba’s Teachings.
Introduction to the Sathya Sai Education in Human Values programme, known also as Sathya Sai EDUCÆRE.