The brilliance displayed by some Gurukuls at the International Gurukul Conference in Ujjain shows how the ancient Indian education system can be restored as mainstream system of learning
Meet, Tushar Vimalchand Talavat (16), the world champion in Vedic Mathematics. He won this title in Indonesia in 2016 by defeating 1300 students of 18 countries and solving 70 questions of Maths within 2.57 minutes at three levels—fingering, abacus and visualisation. Earlier, he had won the similar titles at state and national levels. Apart from Vedic Maths, he is proficient in music, astrology, Ayurveda, Sanskrit, painting, justice, wrestling, gymnastic, judo, yoga, martial arts, rope, mallkhamba—total 20 out of 72 ‘kalas’ prescribed for a man in ancient Bharat. After studies, he wants to propagate Vedic Maths on large scale in the country.
Vatsal Amitbhai Shah (17) is well versed in Sanskrit, Prakrit, Gujarati, English, Astrology, Ayurveda, Mallkhamba, Yoga, Karate, Wrestling, Judo and Violin. He topped Shlaka Pariksha of Nyayashastra held in Ahmedabad recently. He also participated in World Culture Festival in Delhi. Dixit Aditya Chandrasaundik (15) is well versed in mallkhamba, astrology, painting, Vedic Maths, Sanskrit and horse riding. He wants to excel in painting. Manish Chauhan (13) is an emerging talent in painting. Brahmyoganand (8) is expert in blind floor reading. You write anything before him, he will read it even with closed eyes. Equally, Shri Brahma (7) has specialisation in body scanning. He can diagnose one’s body, detect the ailments and heal them.
All these are the products of ancient Gurukul system of learning in ‘modern India’. Tushar, Vatsal, Dixit and Manish are some of the gems among 80 students studying in Ahmedabad based Sabarmati Gurukul, while Brahmayoganand and Shri Brahma are the products of Nithyanand Gurukul, Bengaluru. Tushar is originally from Chennai and studies at Sabarmati Gurukul for six years. Vatsal is originally from Ahmedabad and has been studying there for nine years. Dixit is originally from Patratu, Jharkhand and is in the Gurukul only for four years. Manish is from Palwal, Haryana, and is in the Gurukul for three years. They acquired this knowledge in a very short span. How will be their personality when they complete their education is not difficult to visualise! That is why there is long queue of the influential people seeking admission for their wards in Sabarmati Gurukul also known as Hemchandracharya Sanskrit Pathshala. It is a traditional Gurukul where education is imparted as per the changing needs of the society. Instead of any class system, the students have been divided into 16 groups based on their intelligence level. If the intelligence level of a child is high, he studies with the senior students.
Antarrashtriya Virat Gurukul Sammelan, organised at Maharishi Sandipani Rashtriya Vedvidya Pratishthan from April 28 to 30 introduced the genius being produced by Indian Gurukuls to the world. The last sessions of the conference on April 28 and 29 were dedicated to the display of extraordinary talent of Gurukul students. The conference blew the trumpet of restoring pristine glory of the Gurukul system.
Sage Yajnavalkya is credited with transforming the Gurukul system from state-funded to the society-funded. Since time immemorial, our Gurukuls have been the centres of not only acquiring wisdom, but also the centres of many scientific inventions. Different Gurukuls specialised in different streams and that tradition still continues.
Preserving Traditional Methods of Reciting the Vedas
Pune based Maharishi Vedvyasa Pratishthan runs 34 Gurukuls from Jammu to Manipur since 1990 with the objective of preserving the traditional recitation methods of the Vedas. “Vedas are the treasurer of knowledge and this treasure cannot be allowed to disappear. Preserving the Vedas in book form is meaningless, because the uniqueness in the Vedas is their recitation methods—swaraghat, anupoorvi. We are preserving these methods through three activities—Shabdaraksha (preservation of the words), Artharaksha (preservation of the meaning of words) and Siddhant Sthapana (restoring what has been said in the Vedas),” said Swami Govind Dev Giri, while talking to Organiser.
Promoting Traditional Skills
Punrutthan Samarasata Gurukulam, Pune, has focused on skill education right from the first standard. Most of the students are from nomadic communities which are known for their extraordinary talent in engineering, sculpting and other arts. “Skill education includes training of the traditional engineering like pottery, casting, designing, architect, etc. Wadars are traditionally experts in idol making. They are the architects and sculptors of Ajanta caves. Since the present education system neglects their traditional skills, we have decided to promote them. Apart from the Vedas, Upanishdas, Gyaneshwari, Dasbodh, Dhammapad, all 350 students are taught computer right from the first standard. They have the facility of interacting with the experts through video conferencing,” said Shri Girishi Prabhune, the man who has dedicated his life for the project.
Panchmukhi Shiksha for Girls
Started in 1994, Maithreyee Gurukulam in Dakshin Kannada District of Karnataka has been making sincere efforts to revive the tradition of ‘Panchmukhi Shiksha’ which disappeared with the passage of time.
“The education here comprises of the Vedas, yoga, science, agriculture and skill development. It emphasises on contributing ‘Shastra Parangat Vidhushis’ to the society. With the blend of both ancient and modern education, the learning is through the medium of Sanskrit,” says Sushri Sai Rashmi, who joined the Gurukul at fifth standard and now teaches there for one year after her Post Graduation. There are 97 girls and all recite Vedic hymns every day.
Sewa Spirit from School Days
Prabodhini Gurukulam at Chikmangalore in Karnataka admits 15-20 boys in the age group of 10-11 years every year for five-pronged education—Veda, yoga, agriculture, science and art & music. Education is in four languages—Kannada, Sanskrit, Hindi and English. What makes the students here different from other students is that they engage themselves in different sewa activities after their classes. They conduct Samskar Kendras in villages and organise Balagokulams in different schools. They contact people in about 20 surrounding villages,
prepare medicines and other things from cow dung and urine and treat people through neurotherapy, Reiki and Homeopathy.
Preserving Traditional Knowledge
Ved Vijnana Gurukulam in Karnataka was started in 1997 with the aim of preserving the traditions of Veda, Shastras and yoga in their original form and also to protect the branches of traditional knowledge which are at the verge of extinction. The students’ competence is examined through different Subhas—Ganagapati Subha, Vijay Subha, Sankranti Subha and Yugadi Subha adopting Shlaka and Pravachan methods. The students are engaged in sewa activities including Samskar Kendras, visit to houses to chant the Vedas, working for differently-abled, village development, yoga camps and spoken Sanskrit.
Making Champions of Change
Nivritti Gurukulam at Harikhandige in Udupi may be seen as a small effort at the moment, but in coming days it may produce champions of change. Started only 2.5 years back the Gurukul takes care of 12th pass boys and girls and ensures them quality higher education. There are 75 students (38 girls and 37 boys) who are mainly from government residential schools. The prayer recited here daily explains its vision and goals for the nation.
Temple Based Education
The temple based education at Nithyanand Gurukulam, Bangalore, centres around the ‘Agam Shastra’. The kids run the temple from morning to evening. They study IGCSC syllabus, which is linked to the Cambridge University. “Our kids have cracked the Mensa IQ test, which hardly two per cent people can crack. A total of 463 powers have been described in the Agmas and our kids have already been initiated into 70-80 powers including blind floor reading, body scanning, materialisation, etc. There are 100 children in the Gurukulam and the focus is on power manifestation,” says Maa Vishwapriya from the Gurukulam.
Living life according to Bhagwat Gita
In 2008, some gruhastha devotees of ISKCON started teaching their children at home in Baroda and stopped sending them to schools. In 2012, they set up Avanti Gurukulam for those kids. There are 40 students in the Gurukulam now. The children are taught according to their nature and are trained in different occupations. It is a training centre for living the life according to the Bhagwat Gita.
Some other Gurukuls also displayed their activities at the exhibition inaugurated by RSS Sarsanghachalak Shri Mohan Bhagwat on April 28. A Gurukul in Chennai has started the experiment of Lakhpati Kheti, where a family of five members with only one acre land can live a happy life. Akhil Bharatiya Shikshan Mandal alone supports 22 Gurukuls all over the country and some of them have emerged as model centres of quality learning. “Apart from big Gurukuls, we are promoting Griha Gurukuls where a single Acharya teaches students at his home. Bharat has a rich tradition of Griha Gurukuls, which excelled not only in Sanskrit learning and Veda recitation, but also in Gau Vigyan, Vedic Mathamatics, agriculture, astronomy, Ayurveda, etc,” said Dr Deepak Koirala, Principal of Sabarmati Gurukul. As the demand of Gurukuls is increasing both in Bharat and abroad, the Shikshan Mandal has started listing trained Acharyas. About 2000 Acharyas have already been enrolled.
The Potential Abroad
The delegates from abroad were highly enthusiastic to see the large gathering of people associated with Gurukuls. “We are seven persons from Bhutan. There is no Gurukul there now, but we wish to start soon,” said Shri KP Sharma, Chirang district vice chairman of Hindu Dharma Samudaya of Bhutan. About 95 delegates came from Nepal, where over 225 Gurukuls are already being run. The Government of Nepal helps them. Swargdari Gurukul there is about 125 years old, while the Gurukuls started by Dadhiram Marashani and Bala Guru Sadanand Adhikari are over 130 years old. “When Maoism was at peak, the Gurukuls in Nepal faced a major threat. But now a good number of people are coming forward to support the Gurukuls,” said Dr Shriram Adhikari, convener of Nepal Shikshan Parishad. Swami Vishnu Ballabhanand Saraswati came from Myanmar. He is the Principal of Rameshwar Gurukul, the biggest Gurukul in Myanmar. “We expect the government ensures equal status to the Gurukul education. We are trying to expand the network of Gurukuls with modern look so that the students from Hindus should study there,” said Swami Ballabhanand.
The International Gurukul Conference surely energised the people engaged in Gurukul education, but the pertinent question is how to transform the existing Gurukuls with the changing needs of the society. For it, Shri Govind Dev Giri stresses on two aspects: “First we should conduct a comprehensive study of all the existing Gurukuls, identify the areas to intervene and then plan corrective steps both at social and government levels. Secondly, we should share the best practices of Gurukuls with the modern schools and colleges and persuade them to imbibe. Similarly, Gurukuls should be given priority in CSR funds. The government, without interfering in the functioning of the Gurukuls, can provide monitory help and recognise the Gurukuls equal to that of the other institutions. The government should also felicitate the people associated with the Gurukuls.” Vice Chancellor of SVYASA Dr Ramchandra G. Bhat stresses on producing good quality Acharyas for the Gurukuls.
RSS Sarsanghachalak Shri Mohan Bhagwat at the inaugural session stressed on deciding some actionable points so that concrete efforts may begin immediately after the conference. “We have been changing with the time and needs of our society. We should prepare a blue print for what to do and what not. There is a need to change the mindset of the parents also,” he said. RSS Sarkaryavah Shri Bhaiyaji Joshi said education should be controlled by educationists and Acharyas with the help of the society. RSS Sahsarkaryavah Shri Suresh Soni stressed on studying original scriptures to educate young generation.
Union HRD Minister Prakash Javadekar said he has received 34,000 suggestions for the new education policy. He stressed on mixture of ancient and modern education, which promotes a glorious feeling about the country. Madhya Pradesh Chief Minister Shri Shivraj Singh Chouhan said if we are able to impart value based education to our young generation, we shall be on top in materialistic development also. He declared to implement the deliberations of the conference. Mahamandaleshwar Swami Vishveshwaranand Maharaj, Bhadant Rahul Boddhi and Shri Govind Dev Giri Maharaj also shred their ideas. The delegates returned home with a 10 point pledge taken at the concluding ceremony.
The Sankalp Patra called upon the participants to take along those who support, slowly convince those who say no, win over those who oppose, and stop only after achieving the goal. The conference is expected to prove to be a milestone in reviving the Gurukul system of education in the country.