The Gurukul system has been at the center of our research efforts and the question of the advantages of the Gurukul education system arises many times. So in this post, we will be discussing all that.
The Gurukul system takes care of the holistic development of a child. It develops cultural awareness, integrity, spirituality, and scientific aptitude. In addition, the system inculcates a problem-solving attitude and original thinking in a brahmachari(student) due to its unique methodology and discipline.
The Gurukul system seems very intriguing to many and to some it may summon feelings of backwardness. In this post, our focus will be more on the advantages the gurukul system offers when compared to the now prevalent current education system or day-boarding system.
We’ll divide the benefits of the gurukul education system according to the stakeholders so that we can make our case full proof:
Brings equality to society
Bringing equality may be the stated aim of the political left with their different economic models like communism, socialism, etc. But they have failed miserably everywhere. Now, this is not to say that the alternative economic model of the imperial right (Western) is any better. But at least it does not raise any false hopes.
But ancient Indian society had solved all these problems by providing free-of-cost education to anyone willing. The free education principle was ingrained in the value system that it was considered the duty of the acharya to teach and provide the student without expecting anything in return. Of course, nothing works without finances. So the system was financed by different actors like rich individuals, the state, alumni, society, and the acharya himself.
Education is the best enabler of equality in society. This type of system doesn’t give any unfair advantage to the rich as we are seeing in today’s system. So whether you were rich or poor, if you have the capability and want to learn you’re free to learn from anywhere and everyone provided you pass their admission process. This system gives birth to meritocracy rewarding the ones who have the capability.
Imparts Societal values over an Individualistic approach
The ancient Indian society was so interwoven that it valued and encouraged social values over individual values. That doesn’t mean individual freedom didn’t find any expression in that society. The Indian mind had always used a balancing approach wherever there may arise any conflict. This helped to bring the best of both worlds and didn’t make the life of an individual as mechanical as we have seen in communist societies.
Visiting Vanaprasthi and Sannyasi brings a new perspective
To bring about a fresh perspective and various expertise, Gurukuls are visited by Vanaprasthi and Sannyasis who shares the knowledge they have gained in their lifetime. They teach small but very advanced courses to the brahmacharis.
This system of visiting faculties is absent in the case of modern education schools. There is a concept of visiting faculty but that is only employed in advanced learning centers like colleges and universities. But the visiting faculty doesn’t have any autonomy in teaching a course designed by him which draws heavily from the unique experience and understanding of the professor. Only a few highly advanced universities like Cambridge, Harvard, Stanford, IITs, etc employ this effectively.
This system turns the old population into an asset rather than a liability as seen in today’s system. The old take the responsibilities of sharing knowledge and bringing society together.
The gurukul education system teaches one to not indulge in materialism and luxury till at least he/she is in student life (Brahmacharya Ashrama). Luxury or materialism is not abhorred in Indian thought. But the principle of simple living and high thinking is always promoted.
Austere living gives rise to the phenomenon of production surplus, which in turn, gives birth to prosperity in society. Everyone in society benefits from this prosperity.
A state is nothing but an economic union that is administered by a certain set of rules. Indian thinking has envisaged the state and its rulers differently than their Western counterparts. The King which goes by the title Rajan (Raja) means the one who works for the betterment of people, not the other way around.
So the state works for the betterment of people and people or society works for the betterment of the state. This is a great cycle that brings prosperity without exception. Now let’s discuss the benefits of the gurukul education system to the state.
An environment that fosters R&D and Innovation
As discussed above, in the case of a Gurukul, the student doesn’t follow a well-defined course and charts his path of learning and the acharya is there to guide the student so that he can efficiently utilize the resources and time and complete his studies.
The choice provided at a gurukul in terms of learning gives the student freedom of what he wants to learn and at what pace. This promotes innovation in learning.
Teaches one to value learning over everything
This has been the central theme of the gurukul education system and Indian tradition in general. Knowledge creation and sharing have been treated as the most important quests one can undertake in life. This is not only cherished but actively promoted through every possible avenue the ancient Indian society could provide.
After studying ancient Indian society, I came across this theme of knowledge sharing again and again. I would go even further and state that everything in society was planned around this one thing i.e.
It teaches us to value learning as a lifelong endeavor rather than one that is limited to only a fixed span in life.
A learner also known as Brahmachari in the Gurukul system is one of the most important stakeholders in the Gurukul Education system or any education system for that matter. Any learning system should have the benefits of the learner at its heart lest it won’t function properly. So now we’ll discuss the benefits this system will have for the learning individual
Variety of subjects to choose from
Gurukul system doesn’t limit a child by only offering limited subjects to choose from. Instead, the curriculum of a gurukul is highly advanced and follows an open approach. The Acharya(teacher) usually offers lessons in every field which he considers important. He will introduce the student to a variety of fields and then observe their curiousness.
Depending on the curiosity of the student then he will impart further learning in that field. After observing a child’s nature and interest he will suggest a student explore a particular subject in detail. As the student moves into the deeper study of a particular subject of his interest, the acharya(teacher) will keep on giving important insights. This helps the student perform his research and learning in a highly efficient manner.
While answering a question on the curriculum of the gurukul Acharya Mehul Bhai of Sanskruti Arya Gurukulam, Rajkot states “Course is a closed system while life is open”. He further notes that “Life is unpredictable and can throw a million questions at you. The acharya in itself is a walking university and will answer every question of the student as he may seem fit”. He goes on to explain that “Gurukul trains for life and doesn’t have a closed course. Course usually are for preparing for a specific skill set or job while gurukul prepares one for life.” So the curriculum of a gurukul is not fixed one like we are aware of in the modern system.
Student Centric & highly efficient learning methodology
To understand this we can go into detail about the role of a teacher in the present system Vs the role of an acharya(guru) in the gurukul system. The teacher in the current education system teaches the student about a particular subject only according to the syllabus of the particular class.
As the teacher has to cover a prescribed syllabus for every student in the class. This doesn’t consider the individual student’s capacity. The innate difference in behavior and capability of different students are not considered. Students follow a well-defined path which limits their curiosity and doesn’t provide enough room for innovation or research on the part of a particular student.
Gurukul system, on the other hand, follows a completely different approach. It gives the student all the freedom it can offer him/her for choosing the subject of his choice. In addition, the acharya acts as a guide rather than a teacher. His only motive is to guide the student according to his interest and capability.
The student doesn’t have to follow one well-defined path for learning which fosters innovation and original thinking. Instead, one student completes his/her studies well before others, while others can take their time and complete their studies according to their speed. This environment of collaboration brings out the best in every student.
Prepares for a life Vs preparing for a job
British introduced a modern education system in India so that they could get a cheaper supply of clerks because employing a British was expensive. After independence, the government of India didn’t pay much attention and continued the same education pattern as well as subjects.
So the modern education system prepares for jobs only and even on that front it fails miserably. It doesn’t care to develop intellect and doesn’t encourage innovative thinking because it doesn’t have any incentive in creating full-fledged human beings.
Mediocrity is cherished in this mediocre system. We need to break this self-perpetuating vicious cycle, which is holding us back. Otherwise, we will just progress in mediocrity. Doing the same things will only bring us more of what we are getting i.e. mediocre results.
In gurukuls, discipline is very strict. A student has to wake up early around 4:00 am and go to bed around 9:30 pm. After waking up, a student is constantly learning through various means. The learning starts early in the morning and goes on till bedtime. No student is allowed to be lazy. In addition, a student has to take care of most of his daily chores.
The strict discipline of a gurukul prepares the student for the hardships of life. He’s able to handle most pressure without much problem.
Acharya’s (Teacher’s) Benefits
Acharya is the one who facilitates learning for the Brahmachari. An acharya is a central figure in the Gurukul education system. He is the one who takes care of the welfare of the students. He is supported by society, individuals, his/her earlier students, parents, and the state in running his gurukul.
The gurukul education system provides enough autonomy to the acharya which gives him the freedom to teach any way that he/she sees fit. He doesn’t have to follow the same template as is usually the case with modern education. He is free to choose whatever works the best for his students.
This autonomy gives rise to innovation in a learning environment which in turn makes it more productive.
No financial burden
Raising a child, providing him, and then arranging for quality education is no small task in itself. In addition, it has huge financial implications as well. The education of a child is one of the major expenses just like a house, car, etc. Any parent can vouch for what I am saying. The gurukul education system frees the parents from this obligation.
The modern education system is a minuscule part of learning for a student. Student learns many things from their parents and the environment around them. Let’s be honest, most people don’t have a clue about what is the best way to teach things to their children. Parents teach many things to their children through their conduct knowingly or unknowingly. There is no thought devoted to their behavior by them.
In contrast, the environment of a gurukul is ideal. The acharya doesn’t just teach through books but teaches by his conduct as well.
Gurukul system provides students with a lot of freedom and opportunities for learning which results in the all-round development of a student compared to the limited scope of the current education system. It excels in nearly all fields, preparing the student for life.