In the early times colleges and universities were founded on the basis of religion. They were religious institutions to develop people’s character; and along with their character and their religious convictions, to give them advanced technical training – either in engineering or in the arts or in the sciences.
Whatever religion we follow, we follow it properly to develop proper character with proper morality, ethics and realization of God. But to discard spirituality is to discard character. Character goes deeper than just being nice. When people are tested or are in excruciating situations, the easiest way to get out of it is to be immoral and unethical. Unless one has a spiritual idea, it is practically impossible to maintain one’s ethics and good character in those situations.
Character means ‘the golden rule’. In the western civilization the golden rule of Christian thought is, ‘Treat your neighbours as yourself’. Vedas say ‘par dukha dukhi’ – that a man or woman with a proper character understands others suffering to be his or her own. Honesty and integrity based on principles and a foundation based on spiritual knowledge are required for it to be real. Without spiritual knowledge, all our ethics and all our morality are like buildings made of sand.