ISSN-2231 0495

Vedic Education: An Education For All Time

Vedic Education: An Education for All Time

 

Honey Premendra
Junior Research Fellow,
Department of Education,
University of Allahabad, Allahabad

 

 

Abstract

“Vedic education is the mirror of all the education.” Max Muller. Indian culture is rare manifestation of an intense pride in knowledge. Knowledge, intelligence and spirituality have always held a very important place in India. 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’. In simple words, Vedas means ‘to know’,  they are supposed to be the source of knowledge on which the Indian philosophy of life relies.

Indians have understood the importance of education from the ancient times. That’s why world’s oldest University, The Nalanda University, holy books like Ramayana and Mahabharta, residential institutes of old times i.e. Gurukuls for education where some of the prime characteristics exhibited in Indian society which has effected not only Indian but whole world in the field of education.

Now days in India, common subjects are taught to students till secondary or higher secondary classes. After that they choose their line of interest and then they are taught the subjects of their concerned field only. Unlike today, knowledge of every subject was not given to everybody. A student was imparted knowledge of only those tasks which he was supposed to perform after he grew up. So, there was a specialization based education system right from the childhood. Now days in India, common subjects are taught to students till secondary or higher secondary classes. After that they choose their line of interest and then they are taught the subjects of their concerned field only.

The ancient education system has been a source of inspiration to all educational systems of the world. The ingredients, which our present system, lacks, and which were the predominant facets of our ancient system relate to admission policies (upnayan), monitorial system, low teacher pupil ratio, healthy teaching surroundings, free schooling and college education, sympathetic treatment, role of punishment in discipline, regulation governing student life. Today, in this modern era, where everyone is trying to adopt modern outlook in each and every aspect of life, we sometimes feel, rather need, to adopt some of our traditional characteristics which are much more appropriate and worthy in these changing period of time.

Keywords: Education, Ancient education system, Present education system.

Introduction

In ancient India teaching was considered on the basis of  ancient holy books ‘vedas’  and is considered as a  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. It also helps in laying down the principal that both the public and state should help the learned teachers and educational institutions in constructing the socially acceptable citizens not only on knowledge but also on affective and psychomotor levels. 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. These all characteristics of vedic education system sets the aim which are found to be relevant even today.

Immediate Aims

The important aims of education in Vedic period were:

  • 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

Silent Feature of Vedic Education

Apart of all these immediate aims of education there were some important features which can be considered as the prime base of vedic education. Some of which are as follows:

Source of light

In Vedic period, education was considered as a source of light of illumination which enlightens an individual in all walks of life. It was only education that truth could be perceived and wisdom could be attained. Vedas where the source of all knowledge and man could understand Vedas. The person who does not have the light of education may be termed as blind.

Knowledge As The Third Eye

According to Vedas, education is knowledge. It is the man's third eye. It means that knowledge opens inner eye, flooding him with spiritual and divine life, which forms the provision for man's journey through life. Knowledge protects an individual like a mother, inspires him to follow the path of good conduct as a father does.

Agency of improvement

The illumination as described will bring a complete change in the person and this change is for the better education makes us civilized, refined, polished and cultured. This transformation of a beast to cultured human being occurs because education teaches us to be neat and clean.

Not Merely Book Learning

Illumination is not only related to the concept of education. It does not mean that it has always to come from books. Thus education is not merely book learning. It involves various other factors which help to enlighten a person and attain desired objectives.

Objectives of Vedic education

As in present time also education is supposed to be a mean to attain all round development in context of not only knowledge but also at affective and psychomotor domain of individual. In Vedic period, education has an idealistic form, in which the teachers laid stress upon worship of god, religiousness, spiritually, formation of character, development of personality, creation of an interest, for the development of culture, nation, and society.

Dr. Altekar writes, “The objectives of education in Vedic period was to worship God, a feeling for religion fulfillment of public and civic duties, an increase in social efficiency and protection and propagation of national culture." The prominent aim of Vedic education can be given as under:

Physical And Intellectual Development

People in Vedic India believed that strong mind could only be in a strong body. So, a strong body was considered to be absolutely necessary in worldly as well as religious matter. Education was imported in the open and parnayan and Surya-namaskar were it's regular features. A student has to remain Bramhachari upto the age of twenty five. All through this period he had to lead to a very regular hard and disciplined life. This physical development was followed by intellectual development. A person who did not possess knowledge was considered to be blind intellectually knowledge of four Vedas.(Rig Veda, Sam Veda, Yajur Veda and Atharva Veda).

Religious And Spiritually

Besides physical and intellectual development, education, must develop moral and spiritual faculties. Religion has play a dominant role in the life of Indians. Education must make the students religious minded. They must also have a sense of piety. A spiritual atmosphere prevailed in the centre of education because of the presence of selfless, humble, religious minded, but talented teachers. During this period many hypothesis concerning spiritually took birth knowledge come to be seen as the instrument of salvation. Fire, sacrifices, fasting, taking of vocus became a part of life.

Emphasis Upon Knowledge And Experiences

The Gurkul's laid emphasis upon knowledge obtained from experiences. During this period, the practice of distributing degrees did not exist. Students exhibited the knowledge obtained through discourses and discussions conducted in a concourse of scholars.

Sublimation of instinct

Man is the virtual slave of the instincts embedded in his psyche and when he is obsessed by his senses, he often adopts the wrong path. The objective of education was to sublimate these instinctive tendencies, to turn the mind away from material knowledge and centre it upon the spiritual world, thus establishing control over materialistic and basic tendencies.

Preservation And Spread Of Culture

Vedic education also aimed at preserving and transmitting the best traditions of thought and actions, manners and vocations of the past. Not only preservation of best traditions but also preventing and eradication of ill tradition and practices was also taught in Vedic education.

Promotion Of Social Efficiency Happiness

It also mind at promotion of social efficiency and happiness. Proper training was given to the rising generation in different branches of knowledge, professions and industries. Every individual was trained for the vocation, he was expected to follow so that he might became a socially efficient and useful person.

Development Of Character And Personality

Development of character and personality was another aim of Vedic Indian education. It was achieved through an appropriate environment, lessens on right conduct and teachings based on the life, character and ideals of great persons. Education aimed at developing the virtues of self-control, self-confidence, self-discipline, obedience, love, sympathy, co-operation, logical Judgment, fulfillment of social responsibilities and earning a livelihood.

Immediate And Ultimate Answer

The immediate aim of education was to prepare the different castes of people for their actual needs of life. The ultimate of education in Vedic India was not knowledge as preparation for life in this world or life beyond, but for complete realization of self for liberation of the soul from letters of life, both present and future. The ultimate aim of human society of that age was the achievement of the absolute (brahama) education naturally was bound to be geared to that end. Achieving salvation was the ultimate aim of human life and this is the consequences of the real education.

Through education, the development of every aspect of human life becomes possible. Knowledge protects an individual like a mother, inspires him to follow the path of good conduct as a father does, and gives the pleasure that one's wife provides. The word 'Veda' originates from the root which bears the meaning of knowledge. Knowledge of the four Vedas (Rigveda, Yajurveda, Samaveda, and Atharvaveda), along with the knowledge of Shruti, Smriti, etc., provided an individual, with new knowledge which broadened his intellectual horizon.

Curriculum in Vedic Education

Vedas and Vedic literature

During the Vedic-age, education became centered on religion which is essentially an effect to establish an harmony between man's total personality and the totality of the universe. The curriculum was dominated by the study of Vedas and Vedic literature, spiritual and moral lessons.Hymns of the Vedas were primarily composed by Rishis as an expression of the inner light for the benefit of mankind. There are four Vedas namely:

  • Rig Veda
  • Yajur Veda
  • Sam Veda
  • Atharva Veda.

Vedangas: It includes the study of :siksha, Kalpa, Nirukta,  Chandas, Jyotisha, Vyakearna grammer.

Logic: It develops the reasonary faculities.

Scheme of Arts and Crafts (silpa-vidya): It develops aesthetic sense and practical skill in construction regarding symmetry, proposition and beauty.

Physical Education: Meditation and salvation are possible only when one is physically healthy. Hence intense physical education was also included in the curriculum. It built stamina students had to learn riding, wrestling, hunting, swimming, running, jumping, etc. for developing physical and mental strength, early marriage was not in practice in Vedic age. They strictly observed celibacy upto a particular age to avoid premature old age and death. (Atharva Veda).

Professional and technical subjects:Some professional and technical subjects like medicine and surgery, astronomy, Astrology, Mathematics, economics, were given the importance in the curriculum.

Dharma: It was also the part and parcel of curriculum.

Meditation: It was also included. Hymns of Vedas were composed by Rishis as an expression of the inner light for the benefit of mankind. This was in fact the main object of Vedic education. The education of Vedic period was the education of the complete man.

Student centered: A great quality of curriculum of Vedic education was that it was student centered i.e. according to the educational needs, interests and aptitudes of the student, the curriculum was planned in such a way that it met the requirements of every student.

Stress on other worldliness: Curriculum in Vedic age, laid more stress on other worldliness. Although provisions were made for all students, so that they not only get prepared for this world, but for the eternal happiness in the other world also. The highest wisdom was to seek release from worldly claim and the highest knowledge was to acquitted with the method by which self - realization could be attained.

Methods of teaching: In this period Verbal education was imparted in such a way that it could be preserved for thousands of years. The hymns were learnt by remembering and they were realized through meditation. The sounds words to verses were pronounced in their organized forms. The Acharya, corrected the mistakes of their disciples by repetition. The people of Vedic age believed that the pronunciation of the hymns destroy sin and their effect.

The method of mediation was also practiced meditation helped preservation of the meanings of the mantras and development of the sound of the disciplines. The discipline tried to understand the sense and echo of the sense by meditation of every world of the hymns.

Role Of Teacher During Vedic Period

During the Vedic period, the ‘Gurukul’ method prevailed in which the students lived in the house (gurukul) of the Guru. The process of education passed through three stages of comprehension, Meditation, and memory. The Gurukuls were the centers of education in which education was imparted only by individuals of characters and ability. The students remained with his Guru for 12 years. Teachers laid stress on the integral development of the individual’s personality.

Every student was required to reside in the gurukul to serve his teachers compulsorily. Teacher was a very respectable person who had qualities of head and hand. Any violation of Guru's instruction was regarded as a sin and subject to stern punishment.

The student has to bear the responsibility of feeding both himself and his teacher. Dr.Altekar had said that, a relation between a student teacher was a direct one. It did not function through an institution. The duties of the teacher including teaching, making arrangements for the boarding and hodging of the students.

Mann has stated that the teacher’s prime task and moral duty was to discharge his obligations towards his students. He must not only treat the students as his own child, he must also impart of him true and complete knowledge without concealing any knowledge from him.

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, as the result of which many learned ladies like Ghosha, Sikta, Apala, Lopamudra etc obtained Vedic Education.

Relevance of Vedas for Modern Age

  • Lately we all find that our social interaction is limited to our families, friends, relations etc as community welfare is never our main aim/motto of life- Vedas aim at building Social Capital of the followers of Vedic ‘Sanatan’ Dharma. Vedas therefore, guide us to community welfare/Universal Brotherhood/One Global Family i.e. Viswa Bandhutva and Vasudhaiva-Kutumbkam.
  • In social service the concept of Success is difficult to define. So, Vedas advise it is better to be a man of value than of success. For Value system Vedas have a science of Axiology covering comprehensively of all Idealistic, Ideational and sensate values.
  • Research in social sciences and medical sciences has found that helping others not for recognition, is good for heart. It is great way to exercise your heart and soul. On social service there are a number of mantras/riks/hymns in Vedas, which inspire ‘humans’, ‘to be human.’
  • Vedas specifically guide us to modern sociologists TEACH principle of Transparency, Ethics, Accountability, Conduct and Human welfare.
  • Unless self rule (Swaraj) is at the grass root level in Democracy, the rulers tend to become autocratic, corrupt, hypocrite and tyrannical. So, Vedas advise us to establish two main institutions of Swaraj viz. Vidhta and Sabha and scientific rules for governance for the welfare of the citizens.
  • Ishta theory of Vedas describes paths could be different so long as these paths aim at the welfare of mankind and other animate and inanimate life. Similarly after study of Vedas six schools of Indian philosophy (Darshana)- based on monism, Dualism, and even Atheism developed  but, all aimed at the welfare of mankind. Thus, Vedas in whatever way we describe are meant for the welfare of mankind.
  • Vedas do not consider matter as inert and explain in a large number of hymns that matter has unsuspected vitality. All religions should aim at unity in diversity i.e. (should lead to universal brotherhood-viswa bandhutva), global family of the same One God (vasudhaivan kutumbkam), global trade and global market for the material and spiritual welfare of mankind

Factors Which Can Be Imbibed From Vedic Education In Recent Modern Education

There is a wide gap of Education between Ancient Indian Education and modern Indian Education. Still there are several elements of ancient education which can find room in modern education both in theory and in practice. Some of the prime elements which can be the part of modern Education system are as follows:

Idealism

We are living in modern age but we feel proud of the civilization and culture of our ancestors inherited to us. Even now we give importance to religion, god and desireless deeds. We give more preference to character, spiritualism, philosophy rather than wealth, materialism and science. The present world gives reverence to wealth, power violence and diplomacy whereas we rely in truth, non-violence and mortification. We still believe in idealism and wish to lead an ideal life.

Discipline and Teacher -Pupil Relationship

The sense of discipline and the cordial relation between teacher and pupil of vedic age is well known to the world today we see the educational environment has become so venomous due to indiscipline that is has become an uncountable problem. The sense of discipline can be developed if teacher pupil relationship can be made to adopt the ideal relationship between teacher and pupil.

Teaching Method

In ancient period Shravan or Listening. Manan or meditation and Nididhyaana or realization and experience, question and answers, discourse, lecture discussion and debate methods were prevalent. These methods can be still used in our classrooms faithfully.

Simple Life of Students

In vedic age, students used to lead a simple life and sober life. Nowadays the life style of our young generation has altogether changed they like to lead luxurious and majestic’s life, full of fashion and show. They have given up the principle of ‘Simple Living and High Thinking’ and adopted its reverse principle i.e. High Living and Simple Thinking. The whole balance of the life is disturbed. In order to make their life healthy and smooth they, should be made to realize the importance of ancient style of life, in an appropriate and logical manner.

All Round Development of Child

The main aim was integral and all round development in ancient Indian. The same aim is kept in view in modern education. The ancient education never neglected physical development although the main emphasis was given the intellectual and spiritual development. For this a peaceful, calm, clean, attractive and natural environment far away from town and villages was provided to students. Although, we profess to look after physical, moral spiritual emotional and intellectual development of pupil in modern schools yet it is only bookish knowledge which gets the most of an attention. This idea of all round development of child must be adhered to practically.

Equality of Opportunity

The educator was democratic in his approach in the field of education. All students rich or poor, prince and common were treated alike. In modern Indian too, the constitution has adopted the principle of Equality in the field of education. However, in almost all public schools, and professional institutions this principle is practically ignored and neglected.

Education for Self sufficiency

The ancient schools followed the principle of education for self sufficiency. The school was small integrated community self sufficient in every way. The students used to grow their food products, tended cows, collected firewood‘s and erected cottages themselves under the guidance of teacher. Modern education also lays stress upon preparing students to prepare themselves for their future life. Vocational subjects have been included in the curriculum in order to vocationalize education but much is needed to the done in this direction in order to achieve the desired aim.

Free and Universilization of education

Education was free and universal. The fee, if any, was to be paid, after attaining education from the earnings of the young man who got education, in the form of ‘Guru Dakshina’. During education the boarding and lodging was free for almost all these students. After independence our constitution framers made it clear that it is the duty of all government to provide free education to every child of 0-14 yrs age group. Many programme for this cause has been adopted but still desired objective has not been achieved. Thus we can say that the education of vedic age has its significance in Modern age.

The ancient Indian education system was successful in preserving end spreading its culture and literature even without the help of art of writing. It was only because of the destruction of temples and monasteries by invaders that the literature was lost. The cultural unity that exists even today in the vast sub-continent is due to successful preservation and spread of culture. The education system infused a sense of responsibilities and social values. The ancient education system achieved its aims to the fullest extent. Ancient education emerged from Vedas. The basis of Indian culture lies in the Vedas.

Conclusion

Education system in the Vedic era was very standard and comprehensive. It was fully capable of development of physical and intellectual and character development, development of civics, 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. 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 always aim on the fully development of physical and intellectual and character development, development of civics, 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 not in today’s education policies but also as a aim of vedic education. 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 favored women education. Thus it can be conclude that, although keep a eye on today’s need and change in conditions, it will be very difficult to adopt all the aspects of vedic education, but it is also very sure that some of the basic assumptions on which vedic education was based can be adopted in present education system also, which will ensure and take our education system on to the path for which it is aimed for.

References

  • Bose, A. B. (2003). The state of children in India. Manohar Publisher and Distributor: New Delhi.
  • Chaudhary, S. (2008, Jan 28). Lord Macaula'ys Quote on India . Retrieved from http://sundayposts.blogspot.in/2008/01/lord-macaulays-quote-on-india.html
  • Chaturvedi, V., and Ginsburg, M. (1988). Teachers and the ideology of professionalism in India. Comparative Education Review, 32(4)
  • Joseph, E. (1971). Decolonization of educational culture: The case of India. Comparative Education Review
  • Glassner, W. (1984). Self-importance boosts learning. The School Administrator 45: 16–18.
  • Kumar, K. (1988). Origins of India’s “textbook culture.” . Education Review, 32(4)
 

Login Form

Notice Board