Vedic Education

Vedic period

1)Indian civilization and culture are one of the oldest civilizations and cultures in the world. But which one is the oldest has yet not been decided. However, all accept that Indian Vedas -Rigveda, Yajurveda, Samveda and Atharvaveda are the oldest Scriptures of the world.

2)Duration of Vedic period is considered from 1500 BC to 600 BC.

3)According to English Scholar F.W Thomas there has been no country except India where the love of learning had so early an origin or has exercised so a lasting and powerful effect.

4)India was the first country in the world which could develop a very sound system of education during the Vedic period. The system of education is known as the Vedic System of Education.

5) The early Vedic system of Education and the later Vedic System of Education were developed by Hindus. Many scholars call both of these systems of education as Hindu System of Education. But we consider it appropriate to call it the Vedic System of Education as it was developed in the Vedic period.

 Main features or Characteristics of Vedic System of Education

a)The system of education which was developed during Vedic Period is termed as the Vedic System of Education. 

b)The Administration and organization of education remained almost the same, throughout the Vedic period, but the advancement of time, Knowledge, art and skills. Its curriculum and teaching methods had undergone a change.

 Administration and Finance of Education

A)Free from State control – The state was not – responsible to organize education during Vedic period, with the result that it exercised no control over it. The education during this period was completely under the individual control of the ‘Gurus’ who were the sole in charge of their gurukuls.

B)Free Education – Education during Vedic period was completely free. The gurus themselves arrange for housing and boarding of the students. The students, of-course used to pay guru dakshina to their teachers according to their financial position and wish/volition.

C) Source of income – Donation ‘Dan and Guru Dakshina’ – During Vedic period the gurukuls did not receive any regular grant from the state as is the case today.

1)The kings, emperor and affluent sections of society willingly gave donation in the form of land, animals, grains, clothes, utensils, and money to these gurukuls.

2) students begged alms from society to meet the day to day needs of the gurukuls.

3)The third source of income of the gurukuls was guru dakshina. On the completion of education, students paid guru dakshina according to individual volition which could be land, animals, grains , and clothes.

Vedic system of education

Primary  Education – Primary education during the Vedic period was arranged in the families. The Vidyarambha Sankara (Commencement of education) of the child was initiated on some auspicious day at the age of about 5 years. This ritual was conducted by the family priest the child was bathed, put on new clothes and presented before the priest. The priest would spread in New Cloth with grains on it. The Gods and goddesses were invoked and worshipped by Vedic mantras and the child’s finger was made to run on the grains making letters of the alphabet. The priest was then fed and paid Dakshina. He blessed the child and thus regular education commenced.

Higher Education – During the Vedic period, was organised in the gurukuls, the children were admitted to gurukuls at the age of 8-12 years. Brahmin children were admitted at the age of 8 years, Kshatriya children at the age of 10 years and Vaishya children at the age of 12 years. Upanayana Sanskar of the child was performed at the time of admission in gurukuls. Thus, commenced higher education after this ceremony.

Meaning of Vedic education

During Vedic period education had narrow and extensive meanings, both.

1)It was used as a synonym for knowledge, humanity and discipline. Generally, the knowledge of different subjects and training in Art and skills imparted after the Vidyarambha Sanskar in families and after the opening of Upanayana Sanskar in Gurukul was called education. It was the narrower meaning of education.

2)However, when the students completed their education in the Gurukuls, a Samavartan Sanskar was conducted and the guru addressed the students that they must not be lazy about self-study. It means the knowledge was acquired the whole life through self-study. It was the wider meaning of education.

 Ideals of Education

1)According to Dr. Altekar – The nature of education in Vedic period. It becomes obvious that education in that period was used as a synonym to knowledge. It is clear that the chief aim of education, during that period, was development of knowledge. Emphasis was also laid on devotion to social and national duties and preservation and development of national culture. Salvation was considered to be the ultimate aim of human life and to achieve it.

2)If we look at the rules and daily routine of the gurukuls. It becomes quite evident that special attention was paid to be preservation and enhancement of health and development of character and morality.

Aims and significance of Education in Vedic period

1 – Preservation and enhancement of health – The Vedic rishis and gurus considered salvation to be the ultimate aim of human life and healthy body and healthy mind help to achieve the goal.

2 – Development of knowledge – It was the chief aim of education during Vedic period. Knowledge was considered to be the third eye of man.

3-Acquaintance and Observance of Social and National Duties – It was the third chief aim of Vedic period education. The students were made aware of their duties toward society and the nation and they were properly trained in their observance. The Samaritan ceremony was held after education. The guru preached to the students in this ceremony, about service to parents, service to society and observance of the duties of family life, the guru also preached to the students to clear three rinas (Debt).

Pitra-rina,Guru-rina and Deva-rina.

4 – Preservation and Development of culture – our culture since inception has been religion oriented. Our mode of living, food habits, customs, traditions and values all were based on religion, one of the chief aim of education during Vedic period was the preservation and transmission of our culture.

5 – Moral and character Development – During Vedic period character building meant to train people to behave according to religion and to provide proper direction to their conduct and thinking on the basis of religion. For the moral and character development of the children, they were educated in religion and ethics, since inception.

6 – Spiritual Development – the ultimate aim of education during Vedic period was to purify the inner and outer aspect of man, to proceed towards the salvation.

Method of Teaching in Vedic period

 During Vedic period teaching was generally conducted orally through question-answer problem solving, lecture and debate.

1 ) Imitation and Repetition  Method – 

Imitation is a natural method of learning. Education of language and behaviour at the primary level, was imparted through this method. It was used at the higher level too, the teachers pronounced Veda mantras before the students and the students imitated them.

2 ) Explanation and illustration Method 

During Vedic period, the teacher made the students learn a Veda mantra and then explained it, analysed its meaning and importance and used similes and metaphors, and illustrations to clarify its meaning and importance.

3) Speech, Demonstration and Practice Method – During Vedic period, the activity based subjects like agriculture, cattle, craft, military science and medical science were taught through speech, demonstration and practice method.

4)Question-Answer, Discussion and Debate Method

 In the later Vedic period the question answer, discussion, debate and shastrarth were developed. In the early Vedic period the teachers preached and lectured and the students listened to them silently. In the later Vedic period the students put forward their doubts and the teachers solved them.

5)Medium of Education – Sanskrit 

 During Vedic period, there was difference between the Sanskrit language of a common man and that of the educated person pure Sanskrit was used in the field of higher education. Pure Sanskrit was the medium of education during that period.

6)Monitorial system 

When the number of student increased in gurukuls. The teachers began to appoint senior, intelligent and capable students as monitors. This was mostly used in later Vedic period.

Some of the main characteristics of Vedic education-

1)High status of Teachers

2)No state control on education

3)Teachers behaved as Parents

4)Residential Schools

5)Sanskrit as the Medium of Instruction

6)Method of study

7)Methods of Instruction

8)Individual teaching

9)Immediate aim of education


11)Wide spread education of women

12)Role of Travel in Education

13) Ultimate aim of education-self-Realization

14)Self-control .

Educational centres of Vedic education 


Gurukuls were the dwelling houses of gurus situated in natural surroundings away from noise and bustle of cities. Parents sent their wards at the age of five years to nine years according to their castes after celebrating their Upanayan Sanskar. Pupils lived under the roof of their guru called ‘antevasin’ under the direct supervision of their Guru.

2. Parishads

Parishads were bigger educational institutions where several teachers used to teach different subjects. This may be compared to a college parishad in Upanishads, has been used for a conference of learned men, assembled for deliberations upon philosophical problems. Later on the ‘Parishads’ were set up at the places where learned men lived in good number and gradually these institutions became permanent centres of imparting knowledge. In the words of Dr. R. K. Mukherjee Parishad correspondences to University of students belonging to different colleges.

3. Sammelan

Sammelan literally means getting together for a particular purpose. In this type of educational institutions scholars gathered at one place for learned discussions and competitions generally on the invitation of the king. Scholars were appropriately rewarded.