India has always boasted of a rich tradition in the area of learning and education since ancient times. It is well known that people from other nations such as Europe, the Middle East, and Portugal came to India to get a quality education. One of the famous educational systems practiced in India in the ancient times was The Gurukul System. You might wonder what exactly a Gurukul system is. Let’s find out more about it.
It was a residential schooling system whose origin dates back to around 5000 BC in the Indian subcontinent. It was more prevalent during the Vedic age where students were taught various subjects and about how to live a cultured and disciplined life. Gurukul was actually the home of teacher or Acharya and was the center of learning where pupils resided till their education got complete. All were considered equal at the Gurukul and guru (teacher) as well as shisya (student) resided in the same house or lived near to each other. This relationship between guru and shishya was so sacred that no fee was taken from the students. However, the student had to offer a gurudakshina which was a token of respect paid to the teacher. It was mainly in the form of money or a special task that the student had to perform for the teacher.
Main Objectives of Gurukul System
The main objectives of the gurukul system are
• Character development
• Social awareness
• Personality development
• Intellectual development
• Spiritual development
• Preservation of knowledge & culture
Students were divided into three categories like
(a) Vasu – Those obtaining education up to the age of 24.
(b) Rudra – Those obtaining education up to the age of 36.
(c) Aaditya – Those obtaining education up to the age of 48.
The Gurukul system was the only education system known at the time. The students gained their education with the in-depth knowledge. Not only the education but also they had been taught essential aspects for their cultured and disciplined life. The Shisyas lived under the gurukul roof withthe good brotherhood and there was a good humanity, love and discipline. The Gurukul is a comprehensive learning center where the students are taught good habits of respecting the elders, mother, father & teachers. On the whole, the ancient system gained a huge respect with this Gurukulam system.
The importance of the Gurukul system in present times
The main focus of Gurukuls was on imparting learning to the students in a natural surrounding where the shisyas lived with each other with brotherhood, humanity, love, and discipline.The essential teachings were in subjects like language, science, mathematics through group discussions, self-learning etc.Not only this, but the focus was also given on arts, sports, crafts, singing that developed their intelligence and critical thinking.
Activities such as yoga, meditation, mantra chanting etc generated positivity and peace of mind and made them fit. It was also mandatory to do daily chores on own with a motive to impart practical skills in them. All these helped in the personality development and increased there confidence, sense of discipline, intellect and mindfulness which is necessary even today to face the world that lay ahead.
Flaws in the present education system
Unfortunately, the above concept has disappeared and the modern system of education brought to India in the year 1835 by Lord Macauley is all about rat race to be ahead of others. There is a total absence of personality development, creation of moral conscience and ethical training. One of the biggest flaws about this education is that it is more commercial in nature rather than an institutional concept that should impart holistic learning to the students. It devotes very less time for physical activity and the development of other skill sets that can assist a student to become a better human being.
Do we need a Gurukul system back in India?
Many people may consider the gurukul system to be quite unstructured and a bizarre concept. The thought of living with a teacher, absence of a curriculum or a set routine can make people wonder how exactly will a child learn anything? However, the modern-day educationalist has taken a backward look and realized that there are many teaching approaches from the Gurukul system that can be inculcated in the present-day educational system. Here is a list to it that will also help us realize why the gurukul system in important.
• Modern infrastructure – Robust learning of the students can only take place when focus on given on practical knowledge. But alas our present-day education just believes in bookish knowledge and cramming which is not sufficient. The Gurukul system focussed on applied knowledge that prepared the students in all fields of life. In present times it can be done by creating a perfect combination of academics and extracurricular activities along with teaching in the area of mindfulness and spiritual awareness to make the students better individuals.
• Holistic education – The present day education mainly focuses on a rank based system which is driven by animosity towards there peers. More fuel is added by the over-ambitious parents who judge the knowledge of students only by academic performance. The application of the Gurukul system instead can work on a value-based system where focus can be given on the uniqueness of child so that they can excel in their area of interest. This will also build a good character which is far away from fierce competition and increased stress levels that usually leads to depression.
• The relation between teacher and student – The need of present times is to ensure that teachers and students share a friendly relation and respect. This is as when the children feel secure and have trust in the caregiver when they are most likely to emulate the same. This was present in the Gurukul system which can be inculcated today through use of activities, training workshops to bond with the students.
Overall the idea of inculcating a Gurukul system in Indian education is just to assist the children in understanding the concept of a balanced life. This very ideology of balance should be taught to the kids from a young age so that they make informed decisions about work, food, exercise and the way they wish to live there life.