Education in Ancient India

India has a rich tradition of learning and education right since ancient times, handed over generations to generations either through the oral or written medium.

Evolution of Education System in Ancient India

  • In India, education system had developed since times of Indus Valley as the literary records support it.
  • However, education process had begun with Vedic period, according to Vedic sources like Smriti, Upanishad in the form of Gurukula system. They taught practical subjects such as self-discipline, self-control, respecting elders, hospitality, and moral values. The aim of this was to develop an ethical mental character along with physical development. No fees were collected from students. Gurudakshina was the only service to the teacher. The centres were established as Mattas in forest, pupil from distant parts reached there to learn. Important Gurukuls during Vedic period was of Sage Valmiki, Rishi Kanva’s Gurukul in the 6th century AD.
  • Education underwent few changes when Buddha & Mahavira became wandering teachers who reached to the students and taught social lessons of not killing animals, not harming others, not indulging in adultery, etc.
  • Private education system also existed, where rich merchants took education.
  • During Mauryan times, the education system further underwent changes as teacher selected students according to their mental capacity as the concept of knowledge was related to education.
  • Gradually during Gupta’s, with the establishment of schools and universities, common men got attracted to education. Nalanda University, Taxila University, etc., became a prominent centre during Gupta’s, which included only male pupils. Though education was not denied, women’s education was much lower.
  • Hieun Tsang (Chinese Traveller) got educated at Nalanda, and he mentions a special chapter of education in India.
  • During Harsha, the same Gupta education pattern continued.
  • In the sphere of morals and discipline, the education system has enriched human life considerably.
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