“Education is the most powerful weapon with you can use to change the world”
The above quotation by one of the greatest thinkers, Nelson Mandela perfectly suggests the importance of education. But can we honestly say that modern education is really aimed at equipping the students for changing the world?
Modern education might seem effective when it comes to imparting technical or academic knowledge but it does lack the ethical values associated with the ancient system of Gurukul education. While schools are majorly aimed at making profits, the students look at education to secure great jobs. In short, both are self centered. The thing is that teachers, who are considered to be the pillars of education, are more worried about the figures and digits of their salaries rather than the progress of their students.
In ancient India education was considered as the most pious service to humankind. The teacher was focused at dispelling ignorance of the disciple while the latter tended to employ the acquired knowledge to help humanity. The education was not just about mugging up and clearing the exams. It was rather seen as a commitment to acquire, enhance and retain knowledge.
Some of the great gurukuls like Taxila and Nalanda gave us world famous scholars. In modern times, Maharishi Mahesh Yogi revived the tradition with his holistic approach at Maharishi Mahesh Yogi Vedic University.
Here are some of the advantages of Gurukul system of education:
Foundation to Support the Knowledge
The process of receiving education can be divided into four major parts: reception, comprehension, retention and application. The brain power plays a vital role in all these processes. One needs to strengthen the above said 4 functions of the brain in order to be eligible for receiving education. Or in other words you need to lay the foundation before you start building the house. Any house built without foundation would not stand for long.
In modern education the entire emphasis is on imparting the education even without making the brain competent enough to truly “receive” the education. Hence, they don’t receive the education but just mug up the lessons to clear exams.
In the Gurukul system the brain power of students was strengthened by training them into various disciplines of yoga that are scientifically proven to enhance memory and sharpen the brain. Such a well laid foundation helped them to comprehend, retain and employ the knowledge effectively.
Student’s Commitment is not limited to attending school or colleges for 6-7 hours or studying an hour daily. It rather implies a mind that is devoted to acquisition of knowledge. Because of their fickle nature a child cannot be expected to be committed. But if unchecked the person would not be able to acquire knowledge in its entirety as he lacks the required commitment.
Modern education does not focus on commitment. Once out of the schools, students are free to engage in any activity. Their commitment with studies is, at most, till 5-6 hours when they are in the schools.
The Gurukul education was a major chunk of life (25 years) wholeheartedly devoted to knowledge acquisition. The students used to live with Gurus and remained free from vices of the world. The Gurus ensured that the disciple is free from the mental obstacles that can affect his educational journey and initiated him into the disciplines that trained him to keep his mind under control.
In modern times, there are so many distractions to divert students’ attention: video games, TV, internet and all sorts of different media. Then there are other things like the atmosphere of the house or street where the student lives, the magazines that he reads etc. All these things keep a considerable part of the brain occupied that certainly affects the learning ability of a student.
Modern education does not have any provision to keep the students free from distractions. There are several studies proving that students lack the required attention while the teacher takes classes. Thus even after attending a complete hour of lecture, the students find it difficult to recall even the key points taught there.
To help keep students away from distractions, Gurus offered students a residence, good food and a disciplined atmosphere. The two genders were never educated together ensuring that their mind was entirely on acquiring education. Students’ used to live in Gurukul, preventing them from worrying about the house. Besides they lived in a secluded environment away from the bustling capital.
Objective of Education
The real objective of education is to use knowledge for betterment of society and helping the needy selflessly. Vested interests and unreasonable ambitions strongly interfere with this noble idea. A student who does not know the virtues of selfless service can never be able to fulfill this real objective of education.
Modern education is convinced that education is for his own betterment and career advancement. They are not taught the virtues of social service. As a result, material wants and vested interests increase resulting in wrongdoings going on in the world, right from bribery to terrorism.
The Gurus lived were either ascetics or had renounced the material comforts. Hence living for a considerable period with Gurus the student imbibes and emulates the highest principles set by the ancient teachers. A major attention was given on the ethical use of acquired knowledge for the betterment of society.
Proximity to Nature
Global warming and other natural disorders show the ill-effects of exploitation of the environment for our own use. Never before was the environment in such a poor condition. But we are still not serious enough to save the environment. A quite unnatural life with ACs, fertilizers, chemicals and other artificial materials is the result of our detachment from natural environments. The roots of the cause may be found in our education system.
In modern education, nature is limited to small flower pots inside the school corridor, green paintings on the walls and occasional trips to zoological gardens that are more cosmetic than real. The schools have been converted into concrete, closed structures.
In the Gurukul system, the open spaces near the grand old trees were preferred for teaching while the thatched huts nearby were used during rains. Besides there were several animals like deer, hare, cows etc. sharing the same space. They were not only allowed to graze but were also offered complete safety from hunters and predators. Thus it also helped the students to maintain cordial relations with nature.