School: A Cradle of Civilization

Charu Yeotikar

Human is at the pinnacle of animal kingdom especially because of its developed brain. Do you know that there is a relation between developed brain and gestation period A longer gestation period is associated with region specific increase in grey matter density? Among other species of animal kingdom survival needs few skills like food, defense and reproduction. These skills are taught to the off springs by their parents, so basically parents are teachers for their off springs, But, scenario in human is not that easy. As man has developed brain and had so many faculties of mind so parents are unable to teach their off springs necessary skills, and for that human societies need teachers. 

In ancient India there was a well-developed education system which was called Gurukul. At that time the life of a man was divided into four quarters as Brahmcharyashram, Gruhsthashram, Sanyasashram and Vanprsthashram. According to this division the first quarter of the life of a human being was for education. It was to develop survival   skills for his future life. 

Gurus were learned men called rishis who built their hermits away from cities in vicinity of nature. As in ancient times the society was divided into four Varnas – Brahmin, Kshtriya, Vaishya and Shudra. People had different professions according to their respective varna. The Gurukul curriculum was composed of the study of ancient scripture, law, medicine, astronomy, military science and eighteen shilpas  or arts. There had been some very famous Guru – Shishya pairs . Lord Rama had three gurus Vashistha, Vishwamitra and Agastya. Lord Krishna’s guru was saint Sandipani , lord Dattatreya was believed to have 24 gurus.

A disciple is always like a raw material only a capable teacher shapes him into a diamond, only by providing proper teaching the student is to be groomed to be a good citizen. India really had a long list of wonderful gurus who with the help of their trained students had changed the face of our mother land. Chanakya and Chandragupt, who made India a very powerful country and freed it from the clutches of Greek, Then Govind Bhagawatpada who was guru of Adi Shankarachrya, who united this country culturally. The great Maratha ruler Shivaji was trained by Dadoji Konddev and his  mother Jijabai  , who imbibed the idea of a free Hindu nation to Shivaji. Samarth Ramdas was the spiritual guru of Shivaji.

According to UNO, family is the first university of a child. A child learns socialization, mannerism, food habits, etiquettes, religious faith, traditions, etc. from the family. The foundation of basic character is built in the four walls of the family. But family teaching is not considered as full education for the future life For that a child has to be sent to an established education system.  There a child gets exposure of basic education decided by the contemporary society of that place.

Till our beloved country was governed by Sanatan Dharma, the education system was gurukul. Then umpteen invaders came and went but did not stay here so there was no change in education, culture and life style of the people. But, when Islam invaded our country, all our old systems were destroyed by them.  We are a very good example of how a barbaric religion can defeat a spiritual religion. When Islam established itself the name of country became Hindustan and the Persian became court language. Persian was written in a type of Perso–Arabic script known as Nastalik and its literary conventions and specialized vocabulary was borrowed from Persian, Arabic and Turkic languages. The dialect was eventually given its own name of Urdu and by 1700 the Mughals had formalized the   language. During the Muslim period Madarsas were the centers of learning. Islamic religion was compulsorily taught to all students.

After few centuries of Islamic settlement another Abrahamic religion Christianity attacked Hindustan which renamed it as India, Number of small countries like Britain, Portugal, France, Dutch attacked our country. Finally, Britain turned out to be winner by defeating not only its neighbouring countries but also domestic power centers like Mughals, Marathas, Nizam etc. By end of the 18 th century when British established their undisputed reign, the mode of governance and that of education drastically changed. This holy land of one of the most advanced and civilized cultures became an experimental field for mid-east Islam and European Christianity.

Thomas Babington Macaulay was the pioneer in establishing western education system in India. According to Macaulay western learning was superior from the inferior native culture so he introduced English language for higher education to produce a class of persons. Indian in blood and colour but English in taste and opinion in morals and intellect. The seeds of Macaulay education system were sown in the soil of India in 1835 and English was made the official language for the government, courts and was adopted as official medium of instruction.

A human body sans mind is like a beast. The stress of education is to enhance mind’s capability. A holistic education approaches conquering one’s own mind which makes a person into a Budha.,a Mahavira, a Shankaracharya that is transformation of a man to a Mahrishi,. While, conquering other’s minds turns a person into a Changiz Khan, a Hitler, a Stalin, a Nepolean that is fall of a man into a tyrant. Turning a man into a saint or a satan is the role of education. In ancient India the stature of a guru was higher than a monarch. A guru never bowed his head before a thrown. Dronacharya was the first guru who served a kingdom and sold his services to a ruler. After completion of education the students used to pay Guru Dakshina as their homage to their beloved gurus. From our scripts we have come to know that Abhimanyu learnt armory in his mother’s womb while Eaklavya achieved his training in archery in front of the statue of his guru Dronacharya. Then Dronachrya demanded his thumb as guru dakshina , which set the worst example of a guru. Krishna’s childhood was full of threats so he did not get a chance to go to a gurukul. After killing his own maternal-uncle Kansa and then securing his clan to safety, he admitted himself to gurukul of Sandipani at Ujjain. In those days there were twenty-seven arts to be learnt for achieving perfect learning, Krishna was such a brilliant student that he learnt twenty-seven arts in twenty-seven days. These are some of the examples of bright students and their gurus.

Education is not bound to any country. It spreads all over the world. If we look at the world scenario there had been wonderful teachers at different times who were honored for their learning. Socrates, Plato and Aristotle were a chain of great thinkers from ancient Greek. Confucius was a great teacher from China and is regarded as teacher of all teachers. Annie Sullivan was considered as great teacher because she taught a blind child Helen Keller. This list is endless. In all the eras there had been great teachers and their equally great disciples.

As the international boundaries are melting and stress is on international relationship, so there are International School Boards which are highly reputed like –COBIS-Council of British International Schools, International Baccalaureate based in Geneva, Switzerland, Edexcel, Cambridge Assessment International Education etc. Though a very small country but Singapore is a benchmark in education. Its education system is consistently ranked as one of the highest in the world by OECD.

Gone are the days of imperialism when small European countries implemented their languages and western education system in their colonies. West was proud of its education system. Now the focus has changed. Small countries like Japan, Korea, Taiwan are well ahead in technical research which they have developed in their own languages. The mother tongue and curriculum has a deep relation. In India it is still a matter of discussion that what should be the medium of instruction in schools The progress of China in technology is amazing which is all based on its own language. Every country has its own school system and its own curriculum designed according to its own requirements.

Wherever a person is born and whatever type of education they receive once they attain maturity they should remember that ‘Live and let live’ is the best policy. So train one’s mind to be liberal don’t be biased on issues of colour, caste, creed, gender, religion and socio–economic status.  At the same we need to learn from the history that however liberal you are if others are not that liberal be strong enough to defend yourself. All the living beings of the mother earth have a right to live here.

Conclusion: The real purpose of the education is to learn the art to differentiate and judge between right and wrong, true and false and real and fake. Once this art is mastered a person develops a sense of justification, then there can't be any exploitation, injustice, biasing, prejudices and all sorts of evils. When every human being gets this type of education then the world will be a utopia.


< Contents                                                                                                                                Next >