Kindly excuse, the "Indians", for the certain amount of pride its citizens take about the fact that India somehow ranked the first in the history of evolution of education. The ancient system of education, namely, the Vedic System of education, though focused about its high ideals and purity of body, mind and soul, can be categorised into the Rigvedic period, the Brahamna period, the period of the Upanishads, the Sutra period and the Smriti period.
"· The purpose of Education in ancient India
Education is indeed a constant process of development of innate natural powers of man. Education is the most powerful and necessary mechanism for the advancement of human beings. The central focus of the Vedic system of education was "jnana" (wisdom) which basically lends itself to the understanding of the "apara-vidya", the goal of which is to seek the Supreme reality. Thus, the seed of ancient education germinated as the need for the propagation of knowledge and the incessant out-flow of Vedic scholars as guides to the Vedic society, arose.
"· The "guru"-"shishya" bond
Even at the infancy of the educational experience, was the relationship of the "guru" (teacher) and "shishya" (pupil). The guru's proficiency in the Vedic literature and its auxiliary branches of education made him a superior being, in the realm of education. Hence, he was the father figure to the shishya, and, to the shishya, in return, the guru was a symbol of perfection who has to be obeyed and revered. The teachings and orders of the guru had to be held higher than one's own pleasures. The modern fees structure did not exist then, what prevailed was the parampara or tradition of gurudakshina which is the amount paid by a shishya to his guru at the end of his tenure of education.
"· The concept of Discipline in those days
The issue of discipline in the ancient system of education, better known as "anushashan", was both a principle and practice which was meant to be achieved by meditation. Discipline was necessary in order to strain out the dosh or fault in a personality so that the better self can inculcate the utmost focus on the guru and his teachings. Moreover in order to live a monastic life, discipline was demanded of every shishya.
"· The schools of then
The schools of the ancient India were basically what are known as Gurukuls or Ashrams. Gurukul is the domain of the guru or teacher where the shishya would have to stay and serve the guru during the tenure of learning. The classrooms were mostly held outdoors, under the shades of the tree.
"· The life led by a Shishya
For a child to achieve the first step towards education in ancient India, it was necessary to pass through the ritualistic procedure as mentioned in the Upanayana to symbolize the transference of the ignorant soul to the realm of spiritual knowledge. Hence forth, the shishya has to renounce the worldly materialistic pleasures and wishes, to lead a life of purity and devotion to God till the tenure of his education lasts which may be as long as twelve years i.e. as long as it takes to complete a Veda.
Since time immemorial, amidst all the building and rebuilding of kingdoms and amidst everything that clung to nothing other than "change" itself, the only thing that remained constant was education. Hence, the education received today is the legacy of the glorious yesteryears. And it will fix its roots in years to come to remind everyone this half-forgotten history.