Ancient Education System of India, Class 8 English It so Happened Book Lesson 11 Explanation, Summary, Difficult words

 

Ancient Education System of India Class 8 English It so Happened Book Lesson 11– Detailed explanation of the lesson along with meanings of difficult words. Given here is the complete explanation of the lesson, along with the summary. All the exercises and Question and Answers given at the back of the lesson have been covered.


 

Class 8 English (It so Happened Book) Lesson 11 – Ancient Education System of India

 

lesson 11 ancient education system of india

 

Ancient Education System of India- Introduction

 

The lesson gives us a glimpse of the Indian education system in the ancient times. It tells us how students from all over the world came to study in India. The system focused on holistic development, taking care of both inner and outer self. It gives us an idea about two of the earliest universities- Nalanda and Taxila. It also makes us aware about the role of community in promoting education. 

 

Ancient Education System of India- Summary

 

Introduction

It talks about how travellers saw India as a land of wonder and how India’s culture, religions, philosophies and architecture became famous.

Salient Features of Ancient Education System

It talks about how the education system focused on all aspects of life and aimed at raising a healthy individual who is not only knowledgeable but also physically fit. The teachings were based on the Vedas as well as Upanishads. Moreover, the education system has a heritage of  being practical, accessible and in sync with life.

 

Sources of Education

It talks about all the teachings and works of famous personalities that were used in learning. Education in those times was not only focused on imparting knowledge but it also included Physical education. They were taught how to train their mind and body. Both Gurus and their students used to work efficiently towards growth and development of children. Evaluation used to take place in the form of learned debates. Peer learning was also famous back then. 

 

Ancient Education System in India- A Way of Life

It talks about both formal and informal education systems. Education took place in temples, pathshalas and gurukuls as well as Buddhist monasteries and universities. Gurukuls, or ashrams were named after sages and they were situated in peaceful environments such as a forest. Women too, had access to education and the names of few famous women Vedic scholars are Gargi, Maitreyi, Lopamudra and many more.

Students used to live with their Gurus and stay away from their homes for years till they achieved their goals. They excelled in various subjects and were also taught ways to strengthen the inner self. During their time together, the bond between the students as well as the Gurus also used to strengthen.

 

Viharas and Universities

It talks about the importance of schooling back then and the interest of the kings in promoting education. During this time, various educational centres were built in association with viharas and temples. These universities became a central part of the community wherever they were situated. They were basically meant for higher level education and students that joined them enhanced their knowledge with discussions and debates with learned scholars.

 

Takshashila or Taxila

It talks about Takshashila, a very famous institute where Buddhist religious teachings were also taught for centuries. Students from all over the world came to study here until it got destroyed. It also tells us about the curriculum that was taught at this higher education institute. 

The famous students of Taxila include Panini (one of his greatest works of grammar are called Ashtadhyayi), Jivaka (a renowned physician) and Chanakya/ Kautilya (a royal advisor). Students used to come here to study from far away places even though they had to undertake extremely long and tiring journeys.

 

Role of the Teacher

Back then, teachers enjoyed complete freedom in selecting their students, designing their course, ascertaining the syllabus and the duration of the session. The course would conclude when they were satisfied with their students’ performances. Debates and discussions were the primary methods of teaching.

 

Nalanda University

It talks about the written accounts of Nalanda University given by Chinese Scholars I-Qing and Xuan Zang. Xuan Zang enrolled himself in the university to pursue yogashastra and he has described the Chancellor of Nalanda as the highest living authority in yoga. It was a place for higher learning in various subjects and attracted numerous scholars from all over the country and even the world. Nalanda University offered a wide range of courses covering every bit of knowledge available back then. 

 

Role of Community

Community played a major role in making education accessible. During those days, knowledge was known to be sacred and therefore, the students were not required to pay any fees. Rich merchants, wealthy parents and society took care of financial assistance whereas the universities also received gifts of buildings and lands. Some of the other sources of learning also include Temples, Mathas, Jain Basadis and Buddist viharas or monasteries.

 

Continuation of Indian Education System

The education system of India carried on in the form of ashrams, temples and indigenous schools. Libraries and madrassas were also included in the education system during the  medieval period. Schools were there in lots of parts of India such as tols in Bengal, pathshalas in western India, chatuspadis in Bihar.

To conclude, we can say that the Indian education system concentrated on the overall development of an individual, focusing on both the inner and outer self. This prepared them to face life.

 

Ancient Education System of India- Lesson and Explanation

I

Introduction

You must have heard or read that travellers from various regions having different climates and cultures began to visit parts of India from early times. To them, India was a land of wonder! The fame of Indian culture, wealth, religions, philosophies, art, architecture, as well as its educational practices had spread far and wide. The education system of ancient times was regarded as a source for the knowledge, traditions and practices that guided and encouraged humanity. 

Land of wonder- an actual place or scene of great or strange beauty 

It is a well-known fact that tourists from all over the world belonging to different climate zones and cultural backgrounds used to come to India during early times as they saw India as a land of exquisite beauty. Besides, India was famous all over the world for its culture, wealth, religions, philosophies, art, architecture and educational practices. The educational structure adopted in the country in the earliest times was known to instil and impart knowledge, customs and practices that inspired the quality of compassion, kindness and being humane. 

Salient Features of Ancient Education System

From the time of Rigveda onwards, our ancient education system evolved over the period and focused on the holistic development of the individual by taking care of both the inner and the outer self. The system focused on the moral, physical, spiritual and intellectual aspects of life. It emphasised on values such as humility, truthfulness, discipline, self-reliance and respect for all creations. Students were taught to appreciate the balance between human beings and nature. Teaching and learning followed the tenets of Vedas and Upanishads fulfilling duties towards self, family and society, thus encompassing all aspects of life. Education system focused both on learning and physical development. In other words, the emphasis was on healthy mind and healthy body. You can see that education in India has a heritage of being pragmatic, achievable and complementary to life.

Salient- most noticeable or important

Rigveda- The Rigveda is an ancient Indian collection of Vedic Sanskrit hymns. It is one of the four sacred canonical  texts of Hinduism known as Vedas. Rigvedic period – 1500BC-1000BC  

Holistic- characterized by the belief that the parts of something are intimately interconnected and explicable only by reference to the whole

Humility- the quality of having a modest or low view of one’s importance

Tenets- the main principles of a religion or philosophy

Vedas- The Vedas are a large body of religious texts originating in ancient India. There are four Vedas: the RIgveda, the Yajurveda, the Samaveda and the Atharvaveda 

Upanishads- each of a series of Hindu sacred treatises written in Sanskrit c. 800–200 BC, expounding the Vedas in predominantly mystical and monistic terms.

Heritage- something that is handed down from the past, as a tradition

Pragmatic- dealing with things sensibly and realistically in a way that is based on practical rather than theoretical considerations; practical

Since the Rigveda period, our prehistoric education system has developed gradually and it has centered around holistic development of students that focus on both inner and outer self. The new system paid attention to each aspect of life including moral, physical, spiritual and intellectual aspects. It also focussed on instilling behaviours such as modesty, honesty, discipline, self-dependence and respect for one and all among individuals. The importance of balance between nature and living beings was also taught at a very early stage. During those times, teachings were primarily based on the sacred religious texts such as Vedas and Upanishads that revolved around accomplishing one’s duties towards self, family and society, thereby enabling them to be surrounded by all the facets of life. It was made in such a way that it involved both mental and physical growth thereby raising a healthy individual with a healthy mind and body. Thus, one can clearly notice that the education in India has a history of being practical i.e., it teaches dealing with things sensibly and realistically in a way that is based on practical rather than theoretical considerations. It has also been accessible and in sync with life.

Sources of Education

a page from a manuscript of the rigvedaThe ancient system of education was the education of the Vedas, Brahmanas, Upanishads and Dharmasutras. You must have heard the names of Aryabhata, Panini, Katyayana and Patanjali. Their writings and the medical treatises of Charaka and Sushruta were also some of the sources of learning. Distinction was also drawn between Shastras (learned disciplines) and Kavyas (imaginative and creative literature). Sources of learning were drawn from various disciplines such as Itihas (history), Anviksiki (logic), Mimamsa (interpretation) Shilpashastra (architecture), Arthashastra (polity), Varta (agriculture, trade, commerce, animal husbandry) and Dhanurvidya (archery).

Physical education too was an important curricular area and pupils participated in krida (games, recreational activities), vyayamaprakara (exercises), dhanurvidya (archery) for acquiring martial skills, and yogasadhana (training the mind and body) among others. The Gurus and their pupils worked conscientiously together to become proficient in all aspects of learning.

In order to assess pupils’ learning, shastrartha (learned debates) were organised. Pupils at an advanced stage of learning guided younger pupils. There also existed the system of peer learning, like you have group/peer work.

Dharmasutras- (Dharma- right way of living or righteousness; sutra- sacred thread or code; Dharmastura- righteousness thread or righteousness code i.e., a guideline to live rightly in Hindu society) a book or scripture that forms the initial foundation of Hindu law, containing regulations regarding government, castes, relationships among people, economic actions, diets and religious affairs. There were many texts considered as dharmasutra, but only four survived into modern times. 

Treatises- a written work dealing formally and systematically with a subject

Aryabhatta- He was the first of the major mathematician-astronomers from the classical age of Indian mathematics and Indian astronomy. He presented a number of innovations in mathematics and astronomy in verse form, which were influential for many centuries.

Panini- Panini was an ancient Sanskrit philologist (the study of language in oral and written historical sources), grammarian and a revered scholar in Ancient India. He was considered as “the father of linguistics”.

Katyayana- a Sanskrit grammarian, mathematician and Vedic priest who lived in ancient India 

Patanjali- Patanjali was a sage (rishis; holy figure) in India thought to be the author of number of Sanskrit works

Charaka- one of the principal contributors to Ayurveda; The treatise that Charaka compiled is one of the foundational treatises of classical Indian medicine

Sushruta- an ancient Indian physician described as the “father of surgery”

Conscientiously- in a thorough and responsible way

The early system of education was based on the teachings of Vedas, Brahmanas, Upanishads and Dharmasutras. It also included the works and findings of Aryabhata, Panini, Katyayana and Patanjali as well the medical work of Charaka and Sushruta. A clear distinction between the learned disciplines and fiction literature was drawn or in other words, children were taught both Shastras as well as Kavyas and how they are separate from each other. Different disciplines were taught so as to impart the knowledge of history, logic and interpretation, architecture, polity, agriculture, trade, commerce, animal husbandry and archery. Thus, all these subjects are being taught since ancient times.  All of these subjects helped students learn and enhance their knowledge in various fields.

Not only this, proper care was taken to improve their physical efficiency as well. Physical education was an important aspect and it motivated kids to participate in games and recreational activities like archery for enhancing martial skills. They were made to do physical exercises and training of the mind along with the body was considered extremely crucial. Not only children, but their teachers or Gurus played a major role in ensuring dedicated learning and development. 

In the form of tests, debate competitions were held and the students who have achieved a certain level of learning also helped younger children. Peer learning, as we call it today, or the situation where peers help each other in the learning process has been continuing since those times.

Ancient Education System in India- A Way of Life

visual mapping of the various disciplines encompassed in the vedasIn ancient India, both formal and informal ways of education system existed. Indigenous education was imparted at home, in temples, pathshalas, tols, chatuspadis and gurukuls. There were people in homes, villages and temples who guided young children in imbibing pious ways of life. Temples were also the centres of learning and took interest in the promotion of knowledge of our ancient system. Students went to viharas and universities for higher knowledge. Teaching was largely oral and students remembered and meditated upon what was taught in the class. 

Gurukuls, also known as ashrams, were the residential places of learning. Many of these were named after the sages. Situated in forests, in serene and peaceful surroundings, hundreds of students used to learn together in gurukuls. Women too had access to education during the early Vedic period. Among the prominent women Vedic scholars, we find references to Maitreyi, Viswambhara, Apala, Gargi and Lopamudra, to name a few

Indigenous- original or occurring naturally in a particular place; native 

Pathshalas- a village school offering a rudimentary education

Chatuspadis- a learning home

Gurukuls- (Guru- teacher; kula-home) a type of education system in ancient India with shiya (students) living near or with the Guru, in the same house  

Imbibing- to take or receive into the mind, as knowledge, ideas  

Pious- devoutly religious

Viharas- Buddhist monastery

Sages- someone who has attained wisdom

During the early days, education took place both formally and informally. 

Initially, education took place at homes, temples, pathshalas, tols, chatuspadis and gurukuls. People at home, villages and temples introduced children to the idea of religions. Even temples during those times participated in spreading knowledge. For higher education, children used to go to Buddhist monasteries and universities. Most of the teaching was done orally and students used to meditate to memorise and retain the knowledge.

Students used to stay in Gurukuls or ashrams as they learned there. They promoted the type of education where the students lived near or with their Gurus. Most of these ashrams were named after rishis or sages and were situated in areas surrounded with nature such as the forest which provided a peaceful environment for learning and development. 

Even women were provided the opportunity to learn and grow. Maitreyi, Vishwambhara, Apala, Gargi and Lopamudra are the names of some of the famous women  Vedic scholars.

During that period, the gurus and their shishyas lived together helping each other in day-to-day life. The main objective was to have complete learning, leading a disciplined life and realising one’s inner potential. Students lived away from their homes for years together till they achieved their goals. The gurukul was also the place where the relationship of the guru and shishya strengthened with time. While pursuing their education in different disciplines like history, art of debate, law, medicine, etc., the emphasis was not only on the outer dimensions of the discipline but also on enriching inner dimensions of the personality

As the teacher and their students lived with each other, they used to work together and help each other in everyday chores. This type of teaching promoted discipline and enabled children to have comprehensive learning while finding their true potential. Thus, they had to stay away from their homes for years, at least until they fulfilled their ambitions. The gurukul style of teaching also bought the students and teacher closer. Apart from excelling in a particular field such as history, art of debate, law, medicine, etc, students were also motivated to deepen their understanding of the inner self and personality.

II

Many monasteries/viharas were set up for monks and nuns to meditate, debate and discuss with the learned for their quest for knowledge during this period. Around these viharas, other educational centres of higher learning developed, which attracted students from China, Korea, Tibet, Burma, Ceylon, Java, Nepal and other distant countries.

Buddhist monasteries are buildings occupied by a community of monks living under religious vows. They were built to provide an appropriate atmosphere for meditation to monks and nuns. It also provided a space to discuss and question their teachers in order to obtain greater knowledge during that time. Other educational institutions were also built for higher education around these viharas or monasteries thereby attracting students from  China, Korea, Tibet, Burma, Ceylon, Java, Nepal and other distant countries.

Viharas and Universities

The Jataka tales, accounts given by Xuan Zang and I-Qing (Chinese scholars), as well as other sources tell us that kings and society took active interest in promoting education. As a result many famous educational centres came into existence. Among the most notable universities that evolved during this period were situated at Takshashila, Nalanda, Valabhi, Vikramshila, Odantapuri and Jagaddala. These universities developed in connection with the viharas. Those at Benaras, Navadeep and Kanchi developed in connection with temples and became centres of community life in the places where they were situated.

These institutions catered to the needs of advanced level students. Such students joined the centres of higher learning and developed their knowledge by mutual discussions and debates with renowned scholars.

Jataka tales- The Jatakas are an important part of Buddhist art and literature. They describe the previous existences or births of the Buddha (the Enlightened One) when he appeared as Bodhisattvas (beings who are yet to attain enlightenment or moksha), in both human and non-human forms.

I-Qing- he was a Tang-era Chinese Buddhist monk famed as a traveller and translator. His account of his travels is an important source for the history of the medieval kingdoms

Xuan Zang- Xuanzang was a Chinese Buddhist monk, scholar, traveler, and translator who traveled to India in the seventh century and described the interaction between Chinese Buddhism and Indian Buddhism during the early Tang dynasty 

University- Institution of higher education 

There is also enough evidence that suggests the active interest and participation of kings and society in encouraging schooling. It is evident from the Jataka tales and descriptions given by Chinese scholars namely, Xuan Zang and I-Qing. This resulted in the formation of popular educational institutions and the centres that flourished during that time were at Takshashila, Nalanda, Valabhi, Vikramshila, Odantapuri and Jagaddala. They evolved in association with the monasteries. On the other hand, the universities situated in Benaras, Navadeep and Kanchi grew in connection with temples. These universities became a part of daily lives wherever they were situated. 

These universities were basically meant for imparting higher level education. The advanced level students thus, joined these institutions for advanced education and development with the help of discussions and debates with learned scholars.

Not only this, there was also occasional summoning by a king to a gathering in which the scholars of the country of various viharas and universities would meet, debate and exchange their views.

In this section we will give you glimpses of two universities of the ancient period. These universities were considered among the best centres of learning in the world. These have been recently declared heritage sites by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO).

Summon- to officially arrange a meeting of people

Back then, kings would also arrange gatherings wherein the scholars from all over the country belonging to different viharas and institutions would get a chance to meet each other and discuss their views with one and all.

The next section provides an idea of two universities of the ancient period. They were the best centres of learning and have been recently declared heritage sites by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO)

Takshashila or Taxila

postage stamp of indian grammarian paniniIn ancient times, Takshashila was a noted centre of learning, including religious teachings of Buddhism, for several centuries. It continued to attract students from around the world until its destruction in the 5th century CE. It was known for its higher education and the curriculum comprised the study of ancient scriptures, law, medicine, astronomy, military science and the eighteen silpas or arts.

CE- Common Era

Takshashila was a very famous institute where Buddhist religious teachings were also taught for centuries. As its fame increased, students from all over the world would come to study here until its decline by the hunas in the 5th century CE. It was a higher educational institute where study of ancient scriptures, law, medicine, astronomy, military science and eighteen silpas or arts formed the curriculum.

Takshashila became famous as a place of learning due to its teachers’ expertise. Among its noted pupils were the legendary Indian grammarian, Panini. He was an expert in language and grammar and authored one of the greatest works on grammar called Ashtadhyayi. Jivaka, one of the most renowned physicians in ancient India, and Chanakya (also known as Kautilya), a skilled exponent of statecraft, both studied here. Students came to Takshashila from Kashi, Kosala, Magadha and also from other countries in spite of the long and arduous journey they had to undertake

Statecraft- the skillful management of state affairs; statesmanship or the skill of governing a country

Arduous- difficult and tiring

Takshashila owed its fame to its knowledgeable teachers. The famous students of Taxila include Panini, who was an ancient Sanskrit philologist (the study of language in oral and written historical sources), grammarian and a revered scholar in Ancient India. He was considered as “the father of linguistics” and has done one of the greatest works of grammar called Ashtadhyayi. Some of its other students include Jivaka, a renowned physician in ancient India and Chanakya/ Kautilya, a royal advisor or skilled exponent of the management of state affairs. Students used to come here to study from far away places such as Kashi, Kosala, Magadha and all over the world even though they had to undertake extremely long and tiring journeys.

Takshashila was an ancient Indian city, which is now in north-western Pakistan. It is an important archaeological site and UNESCO declared it to be a World Heritage Site in 1980. Its fame rested on the University, where Chanakya is said to have composed his Arthashastra. Archaeologist Alexander Cunningham discovered its ruins in the mid-19th century.

In the ancient times, Takshashila was an Indian city but it is now a part of Pakistan. UNESCO declared it as a World Heritage SIte in 1980 and it is now an important archaeological site that attracts a lot of tourists. The city was mainly famous for the university where Chanakya is known to have put together his Arthashastra (an ancient Indian Sanskrit treatise on statecraft, economic policy and military strategy). Its remains were found by archaeologist Alexander Cunningham in the mid-19th century.

Role of the Teacher

Teachers had complete autonomy in all aspects from selection of students to designing their syllabi. When the teacher was satisfied with the performance of the students, the course concluded.

He would admit as many students as he liked and taught what his students were keen to learn. Debate and discussions were the primary methods of teaching. Teachers were assisted by their advanced level students.

Autonomy- freedom to act on one’s will

Back then, teachers enjoyed complete freedom in selecting their students, designing their course, ascertaining the syllabus and the duration of the session. The course would conclude when they were satisfied with their students’ performances.

There were no restrictions on the number of students or what they were supposed to teach; they taught what the students wanted to learn. They would initiate discussions and debates to teach their children. The advanced level students helped the teachers as well.

Nalanda University

Xuan ZangNalanda, when Xuan Zang visited it, was called Nala and was a centre of higher learning in various subjects. The University attracted scholars from different parts of the country as well as the world. The Chinese scholars I-Qing and Xuan Zang visited Nalanda in the 7th century CE. They have given vivid accounts of Nalanda. They have noted that as many as one hundred discourses happened on a daily basis, in a variety of disciplines through the methods of debate and discussions. Xuan Zang himself became a student of Nalanda to study yogashastra. He has mentioned that the Chancellor of Nalanda, Shilabhadra, was the highest living authority in yoga. The courses of study offered by Nalanda University covered a wide range, almost the entire circle of knowledge then available. Students at Nalanda studied the Vedas and were also trained in fine arts, medicine, mathematics, astronomy, politics and the art of warfare

Discourses- speak or write authoritatively about a topic 

When Chinese scholars I-Qing and Xuan Zang visited Nalanda in the 7th century CE, it was widely known as Nala. It was a place for higher learning in various subjects and attracted numerous scholars from all over the country and even the world. I-Qing and Xuan Zang have given very realistic descriptions of the University. They have reported that almost hundred discourses took place everyday on different subjects through the medium of debates and discussions. In fact, Xuan Zang enrolled himself in the university to pursue yogashastra and he has described the Chancellor of Nalanda was the highest living authority in yoga.  Nalanda University offered a wide range of courses, covering every bit of knowledge available back then. Students studied the Vedas and they were also made proficient in fine arts, medicine, mathematics, astronomy, politics and the art of warfare.

The ancient Nalanda was a centre of learning from the 5th century CE to 12th century CE. Located in present day Rajgir, Bihar, India, Nalanda was one of the oldest universities of the world and UNESCO declared the ruins of Nalanda Mahavihara, a world heritage site. The new Nalanda University is envisaged as a centre of inter-civilisational dialogue.

 

Nalanda University provided a centre for learning from 5th century CE to 12th century CE. Situated in Rajgir, Bihar, India, it was one of the earliest universities of the world and its ruins have been declared as a world heritage site by UNESCO. However, the new Nalanda University is seen as a centre of inter-civilisational dialogue.

Role of Community

At that time, knowledge was considered sacred and no fee was charged. Contributions towards education were considered the highest form of donation. All members of the society contributed in some form or the other. Financial support came from rich merchants, wealthy parents and society. Besides gifts of buildings, the universities received gifts of land. This form of free education was also prevalent in other ancient universities like Valabhi, Vikramshila and Jagaddala.

At the same time in the south of India, agraharas served as centers of learning and teaching. South Indian kingdoms also had other cultural institutions known as Ghatika and Brahmapuri. A Ghatika was a centre of learning including religion and was small in size. An agrahara was a bigger institution, a whole settlement of learned Brahmins, with its own powers of government and was maintained by generous donations from the society. Temples, Mathas, Jain Basadis and Buddhist Viharas also existed as other sources of learning during this period.

Sacred- connected with God or a god or dedicated to a religious purpose and so deserving veneration 

Brahmapuri- a type of cultural institution

Mathas- a Sanskrit word that means “institute or college” and it also refers to a monastery in Hinduism

Jain Basadis- a place of worship for Jains, the followers of Jainism

Community played a major role in making education accessible. During those days, knowledge was known to be sacred and therefore, the students were not required to pay any fee. This is where the community came in. Contributing towards education was the highest form of charity back then. Rich merchants, wealthy parents and society took care of financial assistance whereas the universities also received gifts of buildings and lands. This ensured that everyone in the community contributed in one form or another. Free education was also available in other ancient universities such as Valabhi, Vikramshila and Jagaddala.

On the other hand, in South India, agrahas (a grant of land and royal income from it, typically by a king or a noble family in India, for religious purposes, particularly to Brahmins to maintain temples in that land or a pilgrimage site and to sustain their families) provided a place for teaching and learning. Cultural institutions of South Indian Kingdoms such as (centre of learning related to religion) Ghatika and Brahmapuri were also there. While agrahas were bigger in size, ghatikas were a bit smaller. Some of the other sources of learning also include Temples, Mathas, Jain Basadis and Buddist viharas or monasteries.

Continuation of Indian Education System

The Indian education system continued in the form of ashrams, in temples and as indigenous schools. During the medieval period, maktabas and madrassas became part of the education system. During the pre-colonial period, indigenous education flourished in India. This was an extension of the formal system that had taken roots earlier. This system was mostly religious and spiritual form of education. Tols in Bengal, pathshalas in western India, chatuspadis in Bihar, and similar schools existed in other parts of India. Local resources via donations supported education. References in texts and memoirs inform that villagers also supported education in southern India.

Maktabas- library

Madrassas- Madrasa is the Arabic word for any type of educational institution, whether for elementary instruction or higher learning

Pre-colonial period-the period of time before colonization of a region or territory

The education system of India carried on in the form of ashrams, temples and indigenous schools. Libraries and madrassas were also included in the education system during the  medieval period. Further during the pre-colonial period, the local education system continued to prosper as an extension of the formal education system that had already been introduced and instilled. It mainly focused on religious and spiritual teachings. Schools were there in lots of parts of India such as tols in Bengal, pathshalas in western India, chatuspadis in Bihar. They were funded by local resources only. Besides, villagers supported education in South India, the evidence of which is found in texts and memoirs.

As we understand, the ancient education system of India focused on the holistic development of the students, both inner and outer self, thus preparing them for life. Education was free and not centralised. Its foundations were laid in the rich cultural traditions of India thereby helping in the development of the physical, intellectual, spiritual and artistic aspects of life holistically.

To conclude, we can say that the Indian education system concentrated on the overall development of an individual, focusing on both the inner and outer self. This prepared them to face life. As mentioned earlier, education was freely accessible and decentralised. Its roots were found in the rich cultural traditions which helped in enhancing the physical, intellectual, spiritual and artistic aspects of life 

Our present day education system has a lot to learn from the ancient education system of India. Therefore, the stress is being laid on connecting learning to the world outside the school. Today educationists recognise the role and importance of multilingual and multicultural education, thereby connecting the ancient and the traditional knowledge with contemporary learning.

Modern education system in India can adapt a lot of ways from the ancient system. It must connect the outside world to learning. However, teachers these days realise the importance of multilingual and multicultural education, thereby connecting the ancient and the traditional knowledge with contemporary learning.

 

Ancient Education System of India- Question and Answers

 

1. Why were travellers attracted towards India? 

A. Travellers from various regions having different climates and cultures began to visit parts of India from early times. To them, India was a land of wonder. Apart from this, the fame of Indian culture, wealth, religions, philosophies, art, architecture, as well as its educational practices had spread far and wide.

 

2. What were the sources of the ancient education system? 

A. The ancient system of education was the education of the Vedas, Brahmanas, Upanishads and Dharmasutras. Some of the findings and writings of Aryabhata, Panini, Katyayana and Patanjali, Charaka and Sushruta were also some of the sources of learning.  Sources of learning were also drawn from various disciplines such as Itihas (history), Anviksiki (logic), Mimamsa (interpretation) Shilpashastra (architecture), Arthashastra (polity), Varta (agriculture, trade, commerce, animal husbandry) and Dhanurvidya (archery).

 

3. What were the features of the education system in ancient India? 

A. The features of education system in ancient India are enumerated as-

  1. The education system in ancient India focused on the holistic development of the individual by taking care of both the inner and the outer self. 
  2. The system focused on the moral, physical, spiritual and intellectual aspects of life. It emphasised on values such as humility, truthfulness, discipline, self-reliance and respect for all creations. Students were taught to appreciate the balance between human beings and nature. 
  3. Teaching and learning followed the tenets of Vedas and Upanishads fulfilling duties towards self, family and society, thus encompassing all aspects of life. 
  4. Education system focused both on learning and physical development. In other words, the emphasis was on a healthy mind and healthy body. 
  5. Education in India has a heritage of being pragmatic, achievable and complementary to life.Apart from the religious teachings and learning from the works of famous scholars, physical education was also considered extremely crucial.
  6. The Gurus and their pupils worked conscientiously together to become proficient in all aspects of learning
  7. In order to assess pupils’ learning, shastrartha (learned debates) were organised. 
  8. Pupils at an advanced stage of learning guided younger pupils. There also existed the system of peer learning, like you have group/peer work.
  9. Teaching was largely oral and students remembered and meditated upon what was taught in the class.
  10. During that period, the gurus and their shishyas lived together helping each other in day-to-day life. The main objective was to have complete learning, leading a disciplined life and realising one’s inner potential.

 

4. What was the role of the guru in pupils’ lives?

A. The Gurus and their pupils worked conscientiously together to become proficient in all aspects of learning. During that period, the gurus and their shishyas lived together helping each other in day-to-day life. The main objective was to have complete learning, leading a disciplined life and realising one’s inner potential. The gurukul was also the place where the relationship of the guru and shishya strengthened with time. Thus, their emphasis was not only on the outer dimensions of discipline but also on enriching inner dimensions of the personality. 

 

5. Where did nuns and monks receive their education? 

A. Many monasteries/viharas were set up for monks and nuns to meditate, debate and discuss with the learned for their quest for knowledge.

 

6. What is Panini known for? 

A. Among the noted pupils of Takshashila were the legendary Indian grammarian, Panini. He was an expert in language and grammar and authored one of the greatest works on grammar called Ashtadhyayi

 

7. Which university did Xuan Zang and I-Qing study at? 

A. The Chinese scholars I-Qing and Xuan Zang visited Nalanda in the 7th century CE when it was widely known as Nala.

 

8. Which subject did Xuan Zang study in India? 

A. Xuan Zang became a student of Nalanda to study yogashastra

 

9. How did society help in the education of students?

A. At that time, knowledge was considered sacred and no fee was charged. Contributions towards education were considered the highest form of donation. All members of the society contributed in some form or the other. Financial support came from rich merchants, wealthy parents and society. Besides gifts of buildings, the universities received gifts of land.