I don’t know how many of us are aware of the significance of the morning assembly in the school. Many of us must have thought about it. But have we ever tried to analyse why we have to do various things in the morning assembly instead of directly entering the class? Unless we know the meaning and significance of what we are doing, it is futile to do it. It is very essential for us to know why we come to school, why we have to study so many subjects, involve in various activities etc.
Morning assembly is the physical, mental and spiritual preparation before beginning the studies at school. We are entering the temple of learning and therefore we need to make our body and mind pure. If we eat food with impure hands, are we not disrespecting the food? Will it not harm our health? The same is with knowledge. Knowledge is the food for the mind. Kahlil Gibran writes in his famous book, “The Prophet”:
“Your daily life is your temple and your religion. Whenever you enter into it, take with you your all”.
Let us now ponder over each thing that we do in the morning assembly.
First of all, the students form a line and stand straight and respond to the roll call. This is the first lesson in discipline. We have to discipline ourself, keep our mind focused before we do anything. Body posture is very important in learning. We have to keep our body straight and erect. It is just like a pitcher filled with water. If we keep shaking the pitcher, the water can’t remain calm. Same with our mind. If our body is not disciplined, the mind can’t concentrate.
Prayer is nothing but a purification of one’s mind. Noble thoughts alone can make a mind pure. We start with the prayer:
“asato ma sat gamaya
Tamaso ma jyotir gamaya
Mrityor ma amritam gamaya”
Which means “lead me from the Impure to the Pure, from Darkness to Light, from Death to Immortality”.
Then we sing “daya kar daan vidya ka….” Where each line is a plea for noble and greater things to come to us, a prayer to the Almighty to manifest in our words and deeds. It ends with the shanty mantra “Om sahana vavatu, sahanau bhunaktu…” which takes us from “us” as an individual to our fellow beings. We pray here for everyone’s welfare, well being and prosperity.
The silent prayer or meditation for two minutes after the shanti mantra is the most fruitful and the most important activity in our morning assembly. It has immense value. Meditation is not concentration though concentration can be its byproduct. It is relaxation of the mind. In meditation, the mind becomes calm. How can the mind be calm?
It can be calm when the frequent waves of thoughts die down and the mind is placid like a lake. Only a calm and meditative mind can be sensitive. A sensitive mind alone can be creative. Thus meditation refreshes our mind completely. A mind that is not receptive cannot learn or explore its own potentials. The whole learning process is in vain without meditation.
An extension of the spirit of the shanti mantra is followed in the pledge that the students take after this. The pledge is to remind us of our duties as a student, a social being and as a citizen of the country. Our whole education is worthless if it doesn’t contribute to the welfare of the society.
News, thought for the day, special item etc. are to let one know what happens in the world outside before we start the day. Classroom is only a cross section of the world outside and we need to integrate our knowledge with the life outside. Remember, the school is a small world and the world is a very big school.
National anthem needs no analysis and nothing needs to be said of its significance. As a citizen of the nation, it is our very breath and life.
The culmination of this whole preparation is the marching song of dispersal. The students literally marching towards the class like soldiers-well equipped, well aware of their duties and ready to learn new things and also to put them all into practice.
We should remember that we are manifestations of the Divine. Let us realize it and make our life meaningful.
–Santhosh Kumar Kana
(Published in KVS QUARTERLY JOURNAL, ZIET, MYSORE, Vol. II, Issue 3, April, 2007)