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 FEATURES OF ANCIENT EDUCATION SYSTEM:
The ancient education system in India had a definite ideal and mission. Unlike the western education system, it did not just focus on inculcating the students with subject-related knowledge. Teaching and learning followed the tenets of Vedas and Upanishads fulfilling duties towards self, family and society, thus encompassing all aspects of life. The basis of Indian culture lies in the Vedas, which are four in number- Rigveda, Samaveda, Yajurveda and Atharvaveda. The Vedas are regarded as the oldest among the literatures of the world and is regarded as the original sources of the philosophy of life in ancient India.
The Four Vedas*
The Rig Veda is based on “Knowledge of the Hymns of Praise” for recitation. From the times of Rig Veda, which focussed on hymns and recitations, education slowly evolved into inculcating both the inner and outer self of an individual and establishing a holistic development. Holistic development focuses on the individual as a whole and not as parts or one particular aspect. Therefore education proved to focus on the moral, physical, spiritual and intellectual aspects of life. Rather than teaching facts and defined statements, students were taught values such as humility, truthfulness, discipline, self-reliance and respect for all creations. Indians always tried to establish a lifestyle that was one with nature. They viewed nature as a source of life. Even the Gods they worshipped were in relation with the elements of nature such as Sun, water, earth etc. They learnt to draw their sustenance from nature, in turn protecting the ecosystem that they lived in.
Blending nature with learning
Education blended harmony with nature and knowledge. They learnt to appreciate the balance between human beings and nature. Education was not just restricted to learning and sharpening one's brain but also dealt with physical activities such as archery, athletics etc. The Vedas and Upanishads were not only religious and cultural texts. They taught various life lessons and made one understand how to focus on the self, family and the other inhabitants of the world. Education focussed on achieving a sound mind in a sound body. Indian education taught one how to deal with life or the problems it offers in a practical way, rather than giving an idealistic approach. It was achievable and offered to the students' insight, in the areas that they were lacking, thus being complementary.
Words with difficult meaning:
|Spiritual||Concerning deep thoughts, emotions rather than the body or physical things|
|Intellectual||Connected with a person's ability to think in a logical way|
|Pragmatic||Dealing with problems in a practical way|
|Complementary||Going together well with somebody/something|
|Self - reliance||Quality of depending on oneself for things|
|Sustenance||The process of making something continue to exist|
- National Council of Educational Research and Training (2008). It so happened. Ancient Education System of India (pp. 89-97). Published at the Publication Division by the Secretary, National Council of Educational Research and Training, Sri Aurobindo Marg, New Delhi.
- The Four Vedas*: Westock Productions / Shutterstock.com