Gurukuls: The Schools of Ancient India

Anurodh Das, Class 8, Homeschooling, Bhubaneswar

During today’s generation, we are accustomed to going to school, studying from textbooks, giving tests, and returning home. This is a far cry from the ancient Indian education system that existed in the form of “Gurukuls.” The term “Gurukul” is derived from the words “Guru” meaning “teacher” and “Kula” meaning “family” or “home.” The Gurukul system emphasized applied knowledge, discipline, and hard work, and stressed holistic learning, which included professional, social, religious, and spiritual education.

The Gurukuls originated around 5000 BCE and played a significant role during the Vedic period. The admission of students to Gurukuls varied based on their caste, with Brahmins being admitted at the age of 6, Kshatriyas at 8, and Vaishyas at 11 years of age. The Gurukul system did not follow a strict syllabus from books; instead, the Gurus observed each student and tailored lessons based on their understanding and abilities. Students were taught a wide range of subjects, including Sanskrit, grammar, astronomy, mathematics, Ayurveda (medicine), Darshan (philosophy), political science, Arthashashtra (economics, political science, administration), Yoga (religion), and Dhanurveda (war-craft). A typical day in Gurukuls involved students undertaking chores such as cleaning, cooking, and physical fitness, as well as learning concepts from texts such as Upanishads.

However, in 1858, the Indian Education Act was passed by Thomas Babington Macaulay (also known as Lord Macaulay), which outlawed the Gurukul system and gave more preference to Western-style schools and education.

June, 2024

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