January 22, 2021

Praveen's Webspace

writing, mostly, on contemporary issues of human rights, politics & social justice

Jai Guru Deva

Here's the link of the article I originally published in The Kathmandu Post.

Guru is a popular term in Nepali society. We use it to address different people. The word guru, which has its origin in the Sanskrit language, is generally used in religious affairs, especially in Hinduism. But in academia, guru refers to teacher. Here, I would love to talk about the word guru in terms of teachers in the light of the culture of treating students. One incident I have recently faced relates to a meeting with my gurus and colleagues before forming a literary association. I was sitting beside my guru’s guru. The event still haunts my mind when someone utters the word guru. This guru told me that the seat I was occupying was not for me but for another colleague. His remark kept me mum for a while, and I promptly vacated the seat without any response.

I am not in the opinion that a guru should not be respected. But I oppose the way my colleagues show their respect towards gurus. I have seen some of my friends blindly supporting my guru’s views, which I dislike. Another thing I do not like is to work for gurus. I loathe fetching vegetables and other things for gurus just to earn their favour. Instead, I would love to work with them for some academic and research-oriented activities. I believe that my hard work and contribution in such activities does showcase myself if my guru shows favour on me. Some gurus I have come across wanted me do so to earn their favour, but I couldn’t.

Being fed up of with the guru culture in Nepal, I came across another Nepali guru teaching at a university in the US. I found his attitude completely different. I came to know that he was also fed up with this culture while he was studying and working in Nepal. He always asks me not to address him as sir but by his name. I have been working with him on writing projects in Nepal.

As a university teacher of rhetorical writing, the way he treats his students inspired me a lot. He has been mentoring me, and I am one of his interns in academic, business and technical writing. I sometimes have opposing views regarding his ideas. There is never a situation to impose one’s ideas. We always have equal and meaningful participation in discussions.

Our discussions are not limited to studies and work but personal and family matters too. This shows that our relationship never let me feel that he is a guru to me but always a friend. The culture of treating students by the teachers in Nepal needs to change, or else it will badly affect some students, especially those who are not in their favour. A guru should treat his or her students equally. I am also a teacher, and I am always careful about this issue while dealing with my students.