The ‘gurukula’, literally ‘being in the family of the Guru’, played a central role in the education system in ancient India. Here, the Acharya or Guru, and the shishyas or students, lived under one roof of the Guru. The education at the gurukula was accomplished through immersion in learning and doing, with continuous interaction between teacher and student. This education, marked by simple living and discipline, revolved around dharma, with a constant emphasis on ethical conduct and values in every walk of life.
The gurukula system was the key to education in every sphere of human learning in India – language, mathematics, philosophy, science, trade, politics, music, dance and so on.
The Gurukula System
Education in ancient India was seen as an art of nurturing fine human beings. The gurukula system of learning – a balanced education system which moulds the student’s body, mind, intellect and spirit – originated in the Vedic period. The gurukula way of living involves a simple and disciplined lifestyle immersed in learning. Such an atmosphere is conducive to the holistic development of the student, who grows in knowledge and character through the sacred student-teacher relationship.
The Chinmaya Vishwavidyapeeth aims to provide our students the opportunity to learn in such an environment so as to gain a deeper and more fulfilling experience of education. The gurukula system also builds life-changing bonds with masters who are devoted to knowledge and to their students.
Indeed, through discovering the intricacies of what one studies, one discovers oneself. Whether it is through traditional classroom lessons, field-trips, concerts or interactions with visiting faculties and maestros, the Chinmaya University student will not only become a master of his chosen field of knowledge but also will grow to understand himself, and become the embodiment of the values that he has imbibed during his stay at the Gurukula.
Blending the Gurukula and University models in Chinmaya Vishwavidyapeeth
Some of the methods through which Chinmaya Vishwavidyapeeth seeks to blend the Gurukula model of learning with the University methodology of teaching are as follows:
- A classroom interaction that will be two-way rather than the present one way from teacher to student
- Use the enquiry method pedagogically both within the classroom and the informal sessions
- Encourage self-discovery of finer nuances of subjects or art-forms through own performance and self-inquiry, by not remaining regimented to the instructions of the teacher.
- Taking the discussions beyond academics in informal small group discussions or performance theatres on wider topics: once a month/ fortnightly such as Multicultural India; Welcoming Diversity; Modernity; Gender; Innovations in Arts, etc. so that cultural values are examined in the present day context and imbibed.
- Moving towards unity and upliftment through informal small group discussions on the spiritual path through such methods as readings from the works of Saints and Sages, Indian psychology, Creativity of Maestros etc.
What made the Gurukula System work?
- Frequent informal interaction outside the classroom between students and teachers
- Students observing the Acharya at close quarters
- Ability of the Acharya to influence the character of the individual
- Emphasis on creating a rounded personality, sure within themselves, contemplative, reflective, striding boldly out to meet the challenges of modernity while being firmly rooted within the traditional or Vedantic ideal; expansive, respect and concern for others’ thoughts, a learner, ability to critique justly and take criticism, speak strongly but with humility, proactive yet rooted within.
The Chinmaya Vishwavidyapeeth seeks to enable these life-changing dynamics for its students.