VEDIC EDUCATION -GURUKULA SYSTEM OF EDUCATION

YUVA SHAKTI BANARAS/ February 7, 2015/ Science & Spirituality/

The education system which was evolved first in ancient India is known as the Vedic system of education. In other words, the ancient systems of education were based on the Vedas and therefore it was given the name of Vedic Educational System. Ancient education emerged from the Vedas.
They are supposed to be the source of Indian philosophy of life. Vedas means ‘to know’.

Vedas occupy a very important place in the Indian life. The basis of Indian culture lies in the Vedas which are four in number – Rigveda, Samveda, Yajurveda, and Atharavaveda. Some scholars have sub divided Vedic Educational period into Rig Veda period, Brahmani period, Upanishada period, Sutra (Hymn)

period, Smriti period etc but all these period, due to predominance of the Vedas, there was no change in the aims and ideals of educations. That is why, the education of these periods, is studied under Vedic period. The education system that prevailed during the Vedic times had some unique

characteristics. Education was confined to the upper castes, and to those who were Brahmacharis. In Indian tradition, a person’s life cycle is divided into four stages of which ‘Brahmacharis’ is the second phase. This is the time set aside for learning and acquiring skills. During Vedic period, most of the upper castes, which were either Brahmins or Kshatriyas, had their education in a unique system called ‘Gurukulas’.

               The most important contribution of ancient India not only for India but also for the world is in the field of education. It may also be remembered that education is not an abstract term. It is manifested in the cultural economic, individual, philosophical, scientific, social and spiritual
advancement. In other words, education is the means for developing the mind for the betterment of the individual and society. In the words of Albert Einstein, “We owe a lot to the Indians who taught us
how to count without which no worthwhile scientific discovery could have made.” This word shows the importance of Vedic period and ancient Indian education.

MAIN FEATURES OF THE VEDIC EDUCATION

             In ancient India teaching was considered to be holy duty which a Brahman was bound to discharge irrespective of consideration of the fee teacher were expected to devote their lives to the cause of teaching in the missionary spirit of self-sacrifice, and the society laid down the principal that both the public and state should help the learned teachers & educational institutions very liberally. Society realized that “Vidyadana” or the gift in the cause of education was to be the best of gifts, possessing a higher religious merit than even the gift of land. On the occasion of religious feats, students and teachers were invited and donations were given liberally.

1. Immediate aim:

   The important aims of education in Vedic period are:

∗ Education for other world lines.
∗ Character formation.
∗ All round development for Personality.
∗ Intellectual Development
∗ Spiritual Development
∗ Preparation for living
∗ Preserving and Transmitting Culture
∗ Education only a means and not an end in itself.

2. Curriculum

1. Vedic Literature:

• The Rig-Veda.
• The Yajurveda.
• The Sam Veda
• The Atharavaveda

2. Vedangas.
3. Hetuvidya.
4. Silpa- vidya.
5. Physical Education.
6. Stress on other worldliness.

3. Methods of Instruction:

    The important methods of learning are:

• Listening (Sravana is listening to words texts as they uttered by the teacher.
• Deliberation (Manana or Chintan is the process of deliberation or reflection of the topic                taught.)
• Meditation (Nidhidhyarama represents the highest stage.).
• Illustration
• Project Method

4. Duration of Education

In the house of the teacher, the student was required to obtain education upto the age of 24, after which he was expected to enter domestic life.

Students were divided into three categories:
(a) Those obtaining education upto the age of 24-Vasu.
(b) Those obtaining education upto the age of 36-Rudra.
(c) Those obtaining education upto the age of 48-Aaditya.

5. Role of Teacher

The teacher or acarya in the Vedic age was responsible not only in imparting knowledge – religious as well as secular, but also in molding the character and personality of the pupils of his asrama.  The acarya of the gurukula system was an affectionate father, an effective teacher, and a person of high moral and spiritual qualities.  He maintained discipline by the influence of his personality.  He was sincere and honest to his work. He taught with his heart and soul.  He also performed the functions of a householder performing the five daily yajnas and observing vows.  He led a disciplined life.

6. Role of Mother in Education

A mother should impart education to her children so as to broaden their horizon. At this stage good manners are to be taught so that the children behave properly with the elders and in assemblies.

7. The Student

The student in the Vedic school was called brahmacarin.  He had to dedicate his life for the sake of gaining knowledge, leading an enlightened life.  In his formative life he must lead an austere and disciplined life. The Upanishads clearly describe the qualities required for a brahmacarin. A
student had to be calm, patient, self-restrained and self-denying.  The student’s prayer included his longing for the realization of a full life. Thus the main aim of the Vedic educational system was to produce a rational individual, free from passions, full of universal affection, continuously selfeducating and striving to reach the highest goal.

7. Female Education

During the Vedic age women were given full status with men. For girls also the Upanayan (initiation ceremony) was performed and after that their education began. They were also required to lead a life of celibacy during education. They used to study the Vedas and other religious and philosophy books; they were free to participate in religious and philosophical discourses. Many ‘Sanhitas’ of Rigveda were composed by women. In Gurukulas the gurus treated male and female pupils alike and made no distinction what-so-ever.

CHARACTERISTICS OF VEDIC EDUCATION

The important characteristics of Vedic education are:
• Vedas are the eldest World Literature.
• Suitable age of education.
• Rig-Veda is the mirror of Ancient Indian culture and civilization.
• Perfection in Education.
• The main aim of Vedic education was to liberate the soul from worldly bondages.
• Equal rights to education for all.
• Ideal of teacher.
• Education standard in the family.
• Equal opportunity to gain education.
• Sanskrit as the Medium of Instruction.
• Education is through travel.

AGENCIES OF VEDIC EDUCATION

There are three agencies of education:-
Guru Kula
Parishad
Sammelan.

1. Gurukulas

wards at the age of five years to nine years according to their castes after celebrating their Upanayan Sanskar. Pupils lived under the roof of their guru called ‘antevasin’ under the direct supervision of their Guru. Gurukula as the name indicates was the family of the teacher and his residence where the students used to stay during the period of study. Gradually, the Gurukula were extended to include a number of buildings. However the institution was built up around the family of teacher. The primary duty of the student was to serve the teacher and his family. The students were like sons of the teacher and the whole institution lived like family.

2. Parishads

Parishads were bigger educational institutions where several teachers used to teach different subjects. This may be compared to a college Parishad in Upanishads, has been used for a conference of learned men, assembled for deliberations upon philosophical problems. Later on the ‘Parishads’ were set up at the places where learned men lived in good number and gradually these institutions became permanent centres of imparting knowledge. In the words of Dr. R. K. Mukherjee Parishad
correspondences to University of students belonging to different colleges.

3. Sammelan

Sammelan literally means getting together for a particular purpose. In this type of educational institutions scholars gathered at one place for learned discussions and competitions generally on the invitation of the king. Scholars were appropriately rewarded.

CONCLUSION

In Vedic era education had the prominent place in society. It was considered as pious and important for society.  Vedic age had, thus, a system of education in which “hearing, chanting and memorizing, played a great part, assimilation of idea took place through a well- planned life of service to teacher, contemplation, all under his guidance. Education was must for everybody for becoming cultured. Education was the fully capable of development of physical and intellectual and character development, development of civis, social, moral, and spiritual values, social efficiency and happiness, preservation and spread of culture, infusion of piety, and religiousness and development of best type of personality.  Relationship between Guru and pupils were very cordial during Vedic and Post- Vedic period. By means of education efforts were being made to infuse ―Satyam Shivam and Sundaram inside the students. A great importance was attached to Veda in education system, self study Swadhyaya was considered more important during that period. The Vedic period favoured
women education.