vedic education
September 19, 2020

Ancient Vedic Education System:

By Nilakhi Banerjee

Tracing back the roots to our rich history

The word ‘Veda’ means Knowledge in its truest and literal sense. Vedic scriptures for millennia have been a source of perfect knowledge and a means of attaining enlightenment for all of humanity. Sprouting from the soils of ancient India, the Vedas are a matter of pride to every Indian. The wisdom it imparts has been benefiting generations after generations for people not just in India but around the world.

Vedas and other Indian scriptures talk about real-world matters such as finance, occupation, warfare, human values, social conduct, and management. Vedas also assess and provide timeless solutions to these matters.

Vedic scriptures are also rich in scientific knowledge, especially in astronomy, physics, mathematics, medicine, biology, algebra and Biochemistry.

Books such as the Surya Siddhanta and Charaka Samhita enlighten us about astronomy and human biology.

William James, an American philosopher rightly said that “From the Vedic scriptures we learn the practical art of surgery, medicine, music and house building under which mechanised art is included”.

He also said that they are the encyclopedias of life, culture, religion, science, ethics, law, cosmology and meteorology.

Max Mueller, Mahatma Gandhi and many other stalwarts have recognized the golden potential of Vedas in our daily lives.

Understanding Vedic scriptures

People have a common misconception that understanding the Vedic scriptures and applying values they teach in an educational institution is “Promoting Hinduism” thereby, secularism isn’t upheld.

It must be noted that the word “Hinduism” was coined by the British during the Imperial rule to classify, distinguish and create a division between the people who followed Islam and the people who followed the Vedic Religion. Hinduism is known as Sanathana Dharma which translates to “A founder-less religion”.

We understand from this translation that Vedic culture was a way of life rather than a religion. Many principles and statements given in the Vedic scriptures coincide vastly with scriptures of other religions as well. This only promotes unity and enhances secularism rather than go against it.

It brings about a sense of patriotism because Vedas belong to all Indians irrespective of religion or social construct. It is a timeless set of values and solutions to matters we face even today. Making students understand this and realizing the value of the roots of our entire civilization that is upheld even in countries abroad is a matter of pride and an integral part of education.

Importance of Vedic scriptures in an education system.

Vedic courses are in demand at reputed foreign universities such as Harvard and Oxford.

These countries are mostly of people who follow Christianity but yet, they have realized that including Vedic culture and Sanskrit scriptures as a part of their education has almost nothing to do with religion and secularism. As Indians, it is only a matter of pride and love of our culture that we must embrace the roots of our education more dearly than anyone else.

The Vedic scriptures and Sanskrit are like a vast tree of knowledge. Anyone can make use of the diverse knowledge, wisdom and values it has to offer.

To conclude, from the mouth of the Vedas themselves, ‘Jagadeka Kutumbakam’. The world is one big family and understanding this as part of our education can bring us closer than ever.

He, who is possessed of supreme knowledge by the concentration of mind, must have his senses under control, like spirited steeds controlled by a charioteer.” says the Katha Upanishad.

Education is the means for developing the mind for the betterment of the individual and society. The significant contribution of ancient India for the world is in the field of education. The education system in India is manifested in the cultural economic, individual, philosophical, scientific, social and spiritual advancement.

In the Vedic age, the central conception of education of the Indians. Was a source of illumination giving us a correct lead in the various spheres of life. As per classical Indian tradition “Sa Vidyayavimuktaye”, (that which liberates us is education).

A famous person once said, education, is the third eye of man. It gives him insight into the life and teaches him how to act. In ancient India, the objective of knowledge was that it must result in a realization of truth.

Education in India during ancient times was taught on three simple processes:

  • Sravana
  • Manana
  • Nidhyasana

Sravana was listening to the truths as they fell from the lips of the teacher. Knowledge was technically called Sruti or what the ear heard and not what was seen in writing, was the essence of Sravana.

Manana implies that the pupil has to think out for himself the meaning of the lessons imparted to him orally by his teacher so that they may be assimilated fully.

Nidhyasana meaning Pupil has to have complete comprehension of the truth, so he may live the truth and not merely explain it by words.

The following objectives were ascribed to education, in ancient India;

  1. Self-control
  2. Development of character
  3. Generation of sociability or social awareness
  4. Integral development of personality
  5. Propagation of purity
  6. Preservation of knowledge and culture.
  7. Proliferation of virtue
  8. Education only a means and not an end in itself.

Connecting Modern education with Vedic education

Education System In India During The Vedic Age had the prominent place in society. It was considered as pious and important for society. Vedic age had a system of education in which “hearing, chanting and memorizing, played a great part, assimilation of an idea took place through a well- planned a life of service to teacher, contemplation, all under his guidance. Thus education was made must for everybody becoming cultured. The relationship between Guru and pupils were very cordial during the Vedic era. Education System In India During The Vedic Age was a means to infuse ―Satyam Shivam and Sundaram in the pupil. Self-study Swadhyaya was considered more important during that period. 

Education System In India During The Vedic Age was very rich in terms of human development and contributed to the growth of Indian civilization. The idea of Indian civilization continued to flourish as India transcended its journey from Ancient to Medieval to Modern times.

Modern Indian education has been a victim of western influence and the importance is more for theoretical knowledge than of practical applications. One needs to comprehend the reason for the aesthetic knowledge of our past. Respect and apply the ancient Indian teaching to inculcate the values and provide the missing sense in the present education system. It is not just about copying ancient traditions, but knowing how the objective of the past can be accomplished in the present day setting. There must be a perfect blend of the cutting edge modern instructions and also conventional teaching methodologies to prepare students in a manner that they understand the significance of mind over matter.