During ancient education, students live away from their parents, their education comprises of subjects like physical education, mental education, politics, economics, etc. They were shaped in a way that they can live in any condition considering how difficult the situation will be?
During the early period education was imparted by the teacher (Guru/Acharya) to the pupils who gathered around him and came to live in his house as members of his family. This was known as Gurukula system of eduation. The family of Guru functioned as a demostic school or an Ashram. During that period, the gurus and their shishyas (pupils) lived together helping each other in day-to-day life.
In ancient India, both formal and informal education existed. Indigenous education was imparted at home, in temples, patashalas, and gurukulas. Teaching was oral and students remembered and meditated upon what was taught in the Gurukulas. There were people in homes, villages and temples who guided young children in imbibing pious ways of life.
The medium of language during the Vedic system was Sanskrit. During those times the education was of Vedas, Brahmanas, Upnishads, and Dharmasutras. From the Rigveda onwards, our ancient education started with the objective of developing the students not only in the outer body but also on the inner body. The ancient education focused on imparting ethics like humility, truthfulness, discipline, self-reliance, and respecting all creations to the students. The education was mostly imparted in ashrams, gurukuls, temples, houses. Sometimes pujaris of the temples used to teach students. The education system of ancient India has some special features and uniqueness which was not found in any other ancient education system of the other countries. The education was mostly given in forests under the blue sky, which keeps the student’s mind fresh and alive.
The main objective of education was to equip the students with a good quality of education. The education mostly focused on the enrichment of culture, character, and personality, development, and cultivation of noble ideals. The objective was gaining the mental, physical, and intellectual personality of students, to make the students future-ready and survive in any situation.
In the Vedic system, a child started his education at the age of five. To mark this commencement, the Vidyarambhaceremony, which included worshiping Goddess Saraswati and learning alphabets for the first time, was conducted. Leaving home and starting to live with a teacher required the child to conduct another ceremony called Upanayana. Boys practiced this ceremony at different ages according to their castes (only children of the Brahmin, Kshatriya and Vaishya did so).
Education for women was quite important in ancient India. They were trained in housekeeping, as well as in dancing and music. Girls also had to conduct the Upanayana ceremony. Educated women were divided into two classes – Sadyodwahas, those who pursued their education just until they got married, and Brahmavadinis, those who never married and continued studying throughout their lives. Vedasand Vedangas were taught to women, too, but were limited to religious songs and poems necessary for rituals. Some notable Vedic and Upanishad women scholars were Apala, Indrani, Ghosha, Lopamudra, Gargi and Maitreyi.
Mastering one Veda took 12 years. Thus, depending on how many subjects the student wanted to learn, the study period varied accordingly. The education could go on for as long as 48 years.
In order to earn a livelihood, men needed to know an art form. As per the ancient Indian education system, there were about 64 art forms, including dance, music, jewel making, sculpture, agriculture, and medical sciences. To acquire vocational training in a particular art form, men were required to work as trainees under a master to gain expertise. They were taught without any cost, and food and boarding were also taken care of by the master.
Just as we have world renowned universities today, there were popular educational institutions here during the ancient times as well. Four of these institutions were quite prominent and known for different specializations. The University of Nalanda was famous for its Catholic and cosmopolitan character and its department of logic. Takshasila University, in an area what is now modern-day Pakistan, was well-known across the world for its medical school and was the chief learning centre in 6th century BC. What Nalanda University was to east India, Vallabhi was to west India. It was also a famous study center that specialized in subjects like law, medicine and economics, and had students attending from all parts of the country. Vikramshila was yet another esteemed institution, best known for Tantric Buddhism.