In Ancient India, the aim of education was far more focused than what we see happen in regular schools today. Today we measure learning primarily based on what subjects are covered, which is not a bad thing. But in pursuit of just covering subjects for head knowledge, we are failing to address the issues of the heart and human values that matter.
Here are some of the aims of education from ancient Indian which will help you realise the high standard education that impacted the heart and the minds of the students.
1. Studying Literature
Studying literature was an essential part of ancient Indian education. The seven main forms of literature that flourished during that period were as follows:
- Sanskrit Kavya (Poems)
- Narrative literature (Tales)
- Drama (Theatre)
- Sanskrit Grammer
- Pali Literature (Language of the common man)
- Prakrit literature
- Tamil literature
As you can see, literature study comprised of a variety of materials that helped students acquire a holistic understanding of the world they lived in.
2. Removal of Ignorance
In ancient India ignorance was compared to darkness and darkness is removed only when a lamp is lit.
They believed that ignorance can only be removed by the light of awareness of truth, they knew that the material world just brings sorrow and when human beings engage in worldly activities, one does not pause to realise that inner essence of the immortal self which is the essence of eternity, consciousness and bliss.
Education was the lamp that lit the darkness of ignorance in man and enlightened the minds giving them an eternal perspective of their existence.
3. The realisation of True Knowledge
In ancient India, true knowledge was acquired through ‘Pramana’, means ‘Evidence’.
There were Six Pramanas that was accepted as the most important ones.
The first three are the ones which we use in conducting everyday business.
- Pratyaksha – Direct Knowledge that one acquires using their senses (eyes, ears, skin, tongue & nose)
- Shabda – Knowledge one acquires from experts and thinkers.
- Anumana (Deduction) – Its all about the Big data science philosophy, analysing past data and predicting future trends.
The next three Pramanas are the current way of knowing. They were as follows.
- Upmana (Metaphors) – Common ways to explain complicated things in all native languages.
- Arthpatti (Hypotheses) – Methods suggesting or assuming the existence, truth, or fact of something as a basis for discussion, reasoning or belief.
- Anuplabdhi (Absence) – A valid way to know the reality. Sometimes, to understand what it is, one must understand what it is not.
4. Achieve Self-Reliance
The other important aim of education in ancient India was also to teach students to be self-reliant on one’s own efforts and abilities, to follow one’s own conscience.
The larger goal of making students self-reliant was also to help them take initiatives and do what they believe was right, rather than following the norms of the society and people around think.
5. Achieve Self-control
Self-control, as you all know, is the ability to regulate one’s emotions, thoughts and behaviour in the face of temptations and impulses.
Self-control often requires us to keep our emotions under control at all times. Like for example, a person with self-control will always be able to make decisions based on reason and not fear, because lack of self-control will compromise our judgement, common sense and confidence.
The ancient Indian education had various practical activities that equipped students to develop self-control so that they can learn to keep their emotions under control.
6. Formation of character
Ancient Indians never believed that intellect alone was enough, Morality was equally necessary. Acquiring knowledge without morality was considered useless.
Therefore, education helped form character by encouraging a simple life. Students were Bramachari (celibate) as long as they were learning. Student’s lives ran according to a strict schedule. Comforts, pleasures and luxuries were seen as non-essentials. Plain food, ethical behaviour, high ideals and values were encouraged.
Gurus didn’t just teach the students but also watched over their moral behaviour.
7. Knowledge of Social and civil life
The ancient Indians recognised that human beings are social animals and that our social life is one of the most important influencers on our mental health. Without a positive and durable relationship with others, both our minds and our bodies fall apart.
As human beings, we can thrive and grow more by our capacity to socially interact.
Most Indian histories were spent in small groups in which each one was dependent on others for survival, and the evidence suggests this is the condition to which we are best adapted.
Civil life, on the other hand, is living responsibly as citizens, having adequate knowledge of the laws, political environment, and understanding of what’s happening around the world.
8. Preservation of national culture
According to Ancient Indians, culture plays an integral part in everyday life. Every human being evolves culturally in society through interaction and interfacing of entities with an accumulated cultural experience.
Thus, cultural heritage, which is the sum total of all the cultural experiences we have as we evolve helps us understand our personal life with a better perspective.
Indian art and literature are endowed with timeless values, which are the unique outcome of the Indian culture.
Therefore, teachings related to the preservation of culture was also an essential part of education.
9. Physical Education
Since olden days, people in India believed that the human body is indeed an instrument of dharma; therefore, the body is to be adequately nourished and maintained. They gave a lot of importance to physical exercise as part of the education system.
The principle of ‘a sound mind in a sound body’ was taught and faithfully practised.
I hope I’ve helped stir you up as you think of quality education for your child. There could be many ways in which you can cultivate them. For us homeschooling helps focus on these aspects as we also focus on the subjects, in fact subject are just means to achieve these higher goals.
Note: Here are some more related articles you might want to consider reading.
- Homeschooling Roots in Ancient India
- Exploring the Quality of Education in Ancient India as we Homeschool