Gurukul Culture: The Ancient Education System of India

The education system in the world has been changed from classroom teaching to online in this pandemic. Many international schools are focusing on various extra curricular activities. But do you know which one is the ancient education system? A gurukula or gurukulam is the oldest education system in India, with shishya (‘students’) living near or with the guru, in the same house. It’s not only the oldest education system in India but one of the ancient education system in the world.

ancient education system of india

The education system in India today

“Education is the passport to the future, for tomorrow belongs to those who prepare for it today.” – Malcolm X

The modern education system of India is a result of many revolutions. Brain many revolutionaries were put together to bring out the best education for all. It is a work of not only a few days or rebellions, but a whole century’s struggle went into the making of India as we see today.

A recent educational reform of the year 2020 is yet another benchmark of the new educational system which intends to achieve universal education from pre-school to secondary school, with a 100% Gross Enrollment Ratio (GER) in school education. Apart from this, teaching up to class five in mother tongue or regional language; lowering the stakes of board exams; allowing foreign universities to set up campuses in India, a single regulator for higher education institutions except for law and medical colleges, and common university entrance exams are some of the most significant reforms in the NEP.

But this education system stands nowhere in the line in comparison with the teachings and regulations of the  ancient education system in India. Though the gurukul culture of India is bygone and was prevalent only in ancient India, let us take a look at what all wonders are hidden behind the teachings of gurukul.

You may also like to read about: TOP FACTS ON THE 4 VEDAS- THE OLDEST TEXT IN THE WORLD

The early history of education in India 

Education in ancient India was condemned under the supervision of a Guru. Those were the days when education was accessible to all and was one of the methods to achieve Moksha or enlightenment. But, with the progress of time and decentralization of the social structure in the country, education was now imparted based on varna and the responsibilities that came with being a member of a particular caste.

In ashrams, the basic requirement for students was to observe the guru’s stringent monastic norms and stay away from cities. However, as the Gupta Empire’s population grew, urban learning centers became more widespread, and cities like Varanasi and the Buddhist center of Nalanda became more conspicuous.

Despite all the changes that hover over the Indian educational system, let us delve into the ‘actual’ culture of Gurukuls. Also, get to know about how Gurukuls are better than the education system prevailing in India today.


The Ancient Education System of India: Gurukul

In the old educational system, the Gurukul was a form of school. The gurukul system is a centuries-old method of education. Gurukulam is prevalent since the Vedic period. Their main goal is to expand knowledge and place a strong emphasis on education. Meditations, yoga, and other standards are used by the Gurus to train their disciples.


Students congregate there to hear their Guru learn the Vedas. Regardless of their social status, the students were treated similarly. Students were treated as though they were members of Gurus’ Families. The Guru-shishya tradition was an addition to the gurukul system. The students are the Shishyas and the teacher, a Guru.

The division of students was into three groups:

Vasu- Those who have completed their education and are under the age of 24.

Rudra: Those who have completed their schooling and are under the age of 36.

Aaditya- Those who have completed their studies up to the age of 48.

At the time, the gurukul system was the only form of education available. The education in Gurukuls was wholesome with in-depth understanding. Not only had they received an education, but they were also taught the important qualities of living a cultured and disciplined life. Thus, Shisyas were under a wonderful fraternity under the roof of gurukul, with good humanism, love, and discipline.

Main objectives of a Gurukul

The key goals of the gurukul system are as follows:

  • Self-control
  • Creating a character
  • Personality development and social awareness
  • Development of the mind
  • Spiritual growth and development
  • Knowledge and cultural preservation

The students in Gurukuls were required to recite the Vedas and other ancient books daily to learn well. This was to ensure that they remember the crucial parts of the texts. Apart from performances, Gurukuls provided students with hands-on learning opportunities. They would cook, clean, and perform other tasks. There were debates and discussions on certain subjects as well. Pupils were required to analyse and apply critical thinking to a variety of topics.

Teachings of Gurukul

It is a myth that in the gurukul system of education, only the Vedas and Upanishads were taught as topics. This was a comprehensive and all-encompassing educational system where a students’ overall growth was included. The pupils’ moral, physical, and spiritual well-being was prioritized. Gurukul teachings include all parts of life, both physical and mental. Students were taught to live in harmony with nature.

The following are some of the subjects that were taught in the gurukul system of education:

Mathematics and mathematics fundamentals

Languages of Science and Astronomy

Medicine in its early stages

The sources of knowledge were the writings of eminent academics such as Aryabhatta and Patanjali. In ancient times, the teacher’s inherent knowledge and experiences also were some of the sources of learning. The shishyas were taught yoga, exercises, physical labour, games, archery, martial arts, and sports in addition to mathematics and many disciplines.

Students were also taught about the responsibilities of social responsibilities. As a result, it is to conclude that the ancient gurukul educational system was a way of life.

Advantages of studying in Gurukul

Discipline and organizational were some of the priorities in a Gurukul. In school, the Gurus instruct them to stick to a strict schedule. The students are more attentive and have a higher level of concentration than other students. This is due to their training to improve their concentration abilities through practices such as meditation.

The students are taught to respect everyone irrespective of their caste, creed, ethnicity, culture, religion and perspective. So, such students grow up as people with strong character and values. The ‘guru-shishya parampara’ is the most famous in Gurukuls where students here hold their professors in great regard and have a strong bond with them. They are shaped by the mentors who guide them.

The ‘gurus’ are responsible for their ‘shishyas’ in a gurukul. They share their tales, instil good habits, and assist children in developing positive character qualities. The students grow into strong individuals. They are taught to maintain their composure in the face of adversity in the outer world. The importance of nature is instilled in Gurukul pupils. As a result, they are extremely close to nature. Students are spiritually elevated which gives them an optimistic, calm and composed personality. Gurukul has a strong emphasis on practical knowledge, which is extremely valuable in helping students develop their notions. Students are taught to live by the philosophy of “simple living and lofty thinking,” which is a wonderful life lesson.

Do we need the Gurukul system back in India?

Many individuals think of the gurukul system as an unstructured and strange concept. People may worry about how a child will learn anything if he or she lives with a teacher if there is no curriculum or fixed schedule.

Modern educationalists, on the other hand, have taken a step back and discovered that there are numerous teaching methodologies from the Gurukul system that can be incorporated into today’s educational system.

  • Modern infrastructure

    Students can only study effectively if they are given a strong emphasis on practical knowledge. However, our current educational system only values academic knowledge and cramming, which is insufficient. The Gurukul method emphasised practical knowledge that prepared students for success in all aspects of life. In today’s world, this can be accomplished by combining academics and extracurricular activities, as well as teaching mindfulness and spiritual awareness to help students become better individuals.

  • Holistic education

    Today’s education is primarily centred on a rank-based system that is motivated by enmity toward one’s peers. Parents who judge their children’s knowledge only on the basis of their academic success throw fuel to the fire. Instead, the Gurukul system can be used to implement a value-based system that focuses on a child’s individuality so that they can thrive in their chosen field. This will also help to develop a decent character that is free of harsh competition and high-stress levels, both of which can lead to depression.

  • The teacher-student relationship

    It is a two-way street. The current demand is to ensure that teachers and students have a positive relationship and mutual respect. This is because when youngsters feel safe and trust their caregivers, they are more likely to imitate them. This was present in the Gurukul system, and it may be instilled now by using activities training workshops to bond with pupils.

Overall, the goal of incorporating a Gurukul system into Indian education is to help pupils grasp the concept of living a balanced life. This balance idea should be instilled in children at a young age so that they can make informed decisions regarding employment, food, exercise, and how they want to live their lives. A gurukul school is clearly the ideal option for a child’s entire development. It produces people who have a distinct point of view.



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