By Gaurav Sharma
Education is not about flooding the brain with mass volumes of data. It is not about maximising the economic prospects of an individual, or providing the means to be at the top of the food chain of success.
It is about acquiring a skill set which is to be constantly reinvigorated and reworked. This skill set, apart from providing social and economic well-being and intellectual fulfillment, should usher in a creative revolution in the psyche of the individual.
It is about taking the student beyond the familiar chartered territory into the unknown. Something that emancipates a learner from the shackles of the mind.
But, does our modern education system actually offer such knowledge?
Working towards economic prosperity within certain social structures is the thrust of the present education system. This can be quite clearly seen in the reflection of the society around us.
One of the most developed nations, boasting of the best education systems in the world such as Harvard, MIT among others, is a host to regular bouts of school shootings, binge alcoholism and umpteen suicides.
The pressure created by the Anglophonic education system to get better grades for better pay is pushing more and more students to take refuge of intoxicants and immediate sense pleasures. This leads them further below the mind, instead of taking them beyond it.
So, if our present education system has such massive pitfalls, isn’t it time we evaluate it more broadly and find out the crucial missing link of the puzzle?
When we make a comparative analysis of the traditional Gurukul system with the present system, we can easily find some answers to this pertinent question.
While some people might claim that the Gurukul system was biased as only the sons of Brahmins and the kings were permitted in such schools, the reality was that any worthy student–possessing the required determination, desire and willingness could join the Gurukul.
The shishyas or students, lived together as equals, irrespective of social standing.
Under the guidance of the Guru, the children led a simple life bereft of immoral habits. Moreover, what really set the Gurukul students apart from the present lot of students entering the workforce was their knowledge of Yoga, meditation and Sanskrit language.
The spiritual disciplines that they strictly followed in the Gurukul, provided them with the mastery of body and mind. Also, by serving the Guru in performing menial jobs inculcated humility deep in their hearts.
This was not to say that they were limited in their knowledge. A wide array of knowledge in the Scriptures, Philosophy, Literature, Medicine, Astrology, History, Warfare was imparted to students
The Vedic knowledge that was taught in the Gurukul made the pupils at ease with their own mind and body. The profound spiritual knowledge made them more peaceful, loving and respectful of other living entities.
The real goal of life that of Mukti or liberation from the fourfold cycle of birth, old age, disease and death assumed paramount importance, and artha or wealth was meant to be used for the welfare of the society.
And, it was ensured that this purpose of life was taught with single-pointedness during the fragile formative years of the child, through the Gurukul system.