This monograph studies the extraordinary life of a young girl a named Joan of Arc, born to a peasant family in 15th century's France. As a child Joan was given by divine voices a precise task. That task was nothing else than to leave her village and meet the heir to the French throne; to obtain from him the commandment of the French armies; and, at their head, to defeat the English invaders. Moreover she had to make sure that the weak king of France acquire legitimacy by being properly crowned. A stupendous mission indeed which this girl fulfilled up to the last detail. Thus Joan's story is the story of divine intervention on earth. How else can one explain what happened? Nobody can explain how a young peasant-girl who had hardly moved from her village knew how to place artillery most effectively, to give but one example. It can only be that she was a transparent instrument able to receive without distortion a knowledge coming from somewhere far beyond her normal consciousness. She was also able to make accurate prophecies, and this was duly recorded in official documents. In her sublime purity, she was totally devoted to the cause of God and prepared for any sacrifice, so that His will may be accomplished. The whole story does not make sense unless it is indeed a play of the Spirit. Truly, in Joan's story one can see what is rarely to be seen with such clarity, the mark of divine footprints in human events. It is as if a gigantic current of force, coming from unfathomable depths or heights, suddenly appeared at the surface of human affairs. If one were to ask for a proof of the existence of the Divinity, the story of Joan of Arc could be seen as being as close as it could be of a compelling proof of a Something beyond.
The task of preparing teaching-learning material for value-oriented education is enormous. There is, first, the idea that value-oriented education should be exploratory rather than prescriptive, and that the teaching-learning material should provide to the learners a growing experience of exploration.
Secondly, it is rightly contended that the proper inspiration to turn to value-orientation is provided by biographies, auto-biographical accounts, personal anecdotes, epistles, short poems, stories of humour, stories of human interest, brief passages filled with pregnant meanings, reflective short essays written in well-chiselled language, plays, powerful accounts of historical events, statements of personal experiences of values in actual situations of life, and similar other statements of scientific, philosophical, artistic and literary expression.
Thirdly, we may take into account the contemporary fact that the entire world is moving rapidly towards the synthesis of the East and the West, and in that context, it seems obvious that our teaching-learning material should foster the gradual familiarisation of students with global themes of universal significance as also those that underline the importance of diversity in unity. This implies that the material should bring the students nearer to their cultural heritage, but also to the highest that is available in the cultural experiences of the world at large.
Fourthly, an attempt should be made to select from Indian and world history such examples that could illustrate the theme of the upward progress of humankind. The selected research material could be multi-sided, and it should be presented in such a manner and in the context in which they need in specific situations that might obtain or that can be created in respect of the students. The research team at the Sri Aurobindo International Institute of Educational Research (SAIIER) has attempted the creation of the relevant teaching-learning material, and they have decided to present the same in the form of monographs. The total number of these monographs will be around eighty to eighty-five. It appears that there are three major powers that uplift life to higher and higher normative levels, and the value of these powers, if well illustrated, could be effectively conveyed to the learners for their upliftment. These powers are those of illumination, heroism and harmony. It may be useful to explore the meanings of these terms illumination, heroism and harmony—since the aim of these monographs is to provide material for a study of what is sought to be conveyed through these three terms. We offer here exploratory statements in regard to these three terms. Illumination is that ignition of inner light in which meaning and value of substance and life-movement are seized, under-stood, comprehended, held, and possessed, stimulating and inspiring guided action and application and creativity culminating in joy, delight, even ecstasy. The width, depth and height of the light and vision determine the degrees of illumination, and when they reach the splendour and glory of synthesis and harmony, illumination ripens into wisdom. Wisdom, too, has varying degrees that can uncover powers of knowledge and action, which reveal unsuspected secrets and unimagined skills of art and craft of creativity and effectiveness.
Heroism is, essentially, inspired force and self-giving and sacrifice in the operations of will that is applied to the quest, realisation and triumph of meaning and value against the resistance of limitations and obstacles by means of courage, battle and adventure. There are degrees and heights of heroism deter-mined by the intensity, persistence and vastness of sacrifice. Heroism attains the highest states of greatness and refinement when it is guided by the highest wisdom and inspired by the sense of service to the ends of justice and harmony, as well as when tasks are executed with consummate skill. Harmony is a progressive state and action of synthesis and equilibrium generated by the creative force of joy and beauty and delight that combines and unites knowledge and peace and stability with will and action and growth and development. Without harmony, there is no perfection, even though there could be maximisation of one or more elements of our nature. When illumination and heroism join and engender relations of mutuality and unity, each is perfected by the other and creativity is endless. In Joan of Arc, we find, abundantly, illumination, heroism and harmony. Illumination, as she, in obedience to heavenly voices, embarked on her stupendous task of liberating France from the English, remaining totally faithful to her inner guidance till the end, and showing amazing capabilities as the youngest ever head of the French army. Harmony, as she tried, repeatedly, to convince the English enemy to leave France peacefully so as to avoid battles and suffering. Harmony again, as she created a beautiful atmosphere around her wherever she was, even in the army whose most brutal elements became well disciplined under her influence. She was also very com-passionate with prisoners or wounded enemy soldiers, a very rare attitude in those merciless times. But she was above all supremely heroic, whether in battle as the leader who inspired or, later, when faced with judges bent on condemning her. Till the end, despite the terrible fate that awaited her, she remained fearless and faithful to her mission.
**Contents and Sample Pages**
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