Open access peer-reviewed chapter

The Influence of Indian Ancient Educational Systems on India’s Educational Strategy

Written By

Sukanta Kumar Naskar and Sushovan Chatterjee

Submitted: 26 May 2021 Reviewed: 14 July 2021 Published: 13 July 2022

DOI: 10.5772/intechopen.99455

From the Edited Volume

Higher Education - New Approaches to Accreditation, Digitalization, and Globalization in the Age of Covid

Edited by Lee Waller and Sharon Waller

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The study of the nature of knowledge and philosophical traditions is the foundation of the ancient Indian education system, which aims to enable human life not only to improve personal economic conditions, but also to improve the social, moral, and spiritual aspects of life. People are not only concerned about improving human life, but also realizing the “higher truth” from darkness to light, that is, “Tamaso Ma Jyotirgamaya”. Therefore, education is not only a means of making money but also contributes to the development of mankind along with enriching society. Therefore, our Indian sages or masters are committed to understanding the super-smart world and the use of spiritual power and adjusting their lives accordingly. The ultimate goal of education appears in Chitti Vrittinirodha (controlling spiritual activities related to the so-called materialist world). Therefore, education is an important means to make people’s potential development in a positive direction so that people can live in a society full of dignity. In the latest “National Education Policy-2020 (NEP-2020)” issued by the Indian government, many suggestions are made to integrate the current education system into the ancient education system. The rich heritage of ancient and eternal Indian knowledge and thought has always been the guiding principle of this policy. In Indian thought and philosophy, the pursuit of knowledge (Jnan), wisdom (Pragyaa), and truth (Satya) have always been regarded as the highest of mankind.


  • Indian education system
  • education policy
  • ancient and modern education

1. Introduction

The best practices of ancient education systems can be implemented in modern education systems. The purpose of modern education is also to cultivate personality, idealism, and philosophy, not to build wealth and live a simple life. However, due to the many problems encountered in the educational environment, there is a lack of cordial relations between teachers and students. The linguistic, spiritual, and religious aspects of Sanskrit must be studied to protect it because it is full of peace, humanity, and brotherhood. Education level is one of the main indicators of the welfare, prosperity, and security of people in any society. Education is a process that equips individuals with daily life skills. Education is not only a system for imparting and acquiring knowledge [1] but also an attempt to spread the cultural norms of the group to its young members.

Ancient India was a country of great innovations [2, 3, 4]. Therefore today, India fails to continue its innovativeness due to collaboration, invasion, industrialization, and privatization. Over the time India neglecting in using innovation and consequently lost imagination power. Borrowed methods of education and teaching learning from western countries are integrated to produce pass outs without having any qualitative value addition suitable for Indian education system. Western values and culture, western literature, westernized STEM, western heroes are predominantly dominating Indian education system. Children produced through this system are becoming totally American or British colonial and have lost themselves. Indians are known primarily by their culture, rich heritages, their own heroes, Kalidasa was the greatest poet ever in the world but fact is that most of our children are not aware of him and his contribution. To revive Indian tradition, it is advisable that student should study contemporary Indian philosophy and value system [5]. Greatest books like - foundation of Indian culture, the life divine, syntheses of yoga expected to be a part of our curriculum. Therefore, children should develop awareness about their roots in their history, literature, and Indian heroes.


2. Foundation of ancient Indian education system

If we look back at the history of the ancient education system, we should be proud. With the transformation of the Indian education system, our ancient education system must now be reconsidered. A characteristic of ancient India or Hindu civilization [2] is that it’s shaping and shaping in the course of its history is shaped by religion than by political or economic influences. We know mathematics, we deduced theorems, we discovered planets, we calculated the distance from the sun to the earth thousands of years ago, and there are many such brilliant facts and data to prove it.However the question arises, how can India be so great? How to acquire this knowledge and acquire skills? Research shows that India’s solid education system is the reason. As Swami Vivekananda cited, education is aimed at “Man Making and Character Building.” Similarly, we must realize that the goal of our ancient education system is to “train the integrity of life” and develop the moral qualities of men and women to fight for survival in society [6].

A strong inclusive education was encircled with three centralobjectives:

  1. Growth of the soul and its powers and possibilities- For an individual

  2. Preservation, strengthening, and enrichment of the nation-soul and its Dharma- for the nation,

  3. To raise both the individual and nation into powers of the life and ascending mind and soul of humanity.

Ancient India was a great country of innovation. However today, India is not innovative, mainly because of cooperation, invasion, industrialization and privatization. India has lost its imagination and ability to innovate. The school that produced the clone, the university taught Western values, Western literature, Western mathematics, and Western heroes. These children have completely become American or British colonies, completely lost in themselves. Indians are known popularly by their glorified culture, rich heritages, contributions of their own heroes, Kalidasa [6] was the acknowledged poet in the world but fact is that most of our children do not have much idea about him and his contribution therefore; to revive Indian tradition the only solution is that student should study contemporary Indian philosophy and value system. Famous books like - foundation of Indian culture, the life divine, syntheses of yoga expected to be a part of our curriculum. Therefore, children should develop awareness about their roots in their history, literature, and Indian heroes.


3. Processes of education

Education is concentrated in the three processes of Sravana, Manana and Niddhyaasana [7, 8].

  • Sravana-Means listened and understood. One should understand that this is not only hearing, hearing is different, and hearing is different. When the truth fell from the teacher’s mouth, Slavana was listening to the truth. Technically speaking, knowledge is called Sruti or what the ear hears, not written content.

  • Mañana- The second knowledge process is called Manana, which means that the student must think about the meaning of the lessons his teacher verbally teaches him so that they can be fully absorbed. Manana is reflecting what we are listening to (Shravana). It is discussing the truth of the point of view. In this process, especially the Guru (Guru) will ask questions, students will answer, and discuss this in a small group.

  • Nidhyaasana- The third step is called “Niddhyasana”, which means that the student must fully understand the truth taught so that he can practice the truth instead of just explaining it in words; this becomes the realization of truth. Manan (reflection) was a method especially suitable for highly intelligent students.

It was compulsory practice that every student should go through three stages (Sravana, Mañana, Nidhyaasana) every day. Each stage has its importance, and although it seems that they are very simple but they are very effective.

The Gurukul education system existed in ancient times. Students used to live in Gurukul, learn everything under effective supervision of Guru, and then implement them to find solutions relevant to real-life problems. The master imparted all knowledge, such as religion, Sanskrit, scripture, medicine, philosophy, literature, war, country strategy, astrology, history, etc. Learning is not only about reading books, but also about connecting them with nature and life. It is not memorizing certain facts and figures, nor is it writing the answers in the exam. The students of the disciplinary forces range from rich families to poor families. Every student has lived a very simple life with asthma. Discipline, rules and regulations are rooted in morality and religion. Any violation of the rules is considered a crime and should be punished.


4. Method of teaching

Two teaching methods were practiced during the Vedic Vedic period. The first method is Oral, and the second method is based on Chintan’s ideas [2]. In oral teaching, students should memorize mantras (Vedic hymns) and Richayes (Verse of Riggeda) so as not to be changed by mistake, and to retain their original form. Thinking method is another part of teaching method. In this way, an attempt was made to preserve the Vedic Sutras and Ricias. The principle of thinking Manana Shakti is considered to be higher than the subject of thinking [7, 8]. Therefore, the primary theme of education is thought itself. According to the ancient Indian educational theory, the training of thinking and thinking process is essential to the acquisition of knowledge. Therefore, students must mainly conduct self-education and realize their own intellectual growth. Education is reduced to three simple processes of Sravana, Manana and Niddhyaasana [2]. When the truth fell from the teacher’s mouth, Slavana was listening to the truth. Technically speaking, knowledge is called Sruti or what is heard by the ear, rather than what is seen in writing. The second knowledge process is called Manana, which means that the student must think about the meaning of the lessons his teacher verbally teaches him so that they can be fully absorbed. The third step is called “Niddhyasana”, which means that the student must fully understand the truth taught so that he can practice the truth instead of just explaining it in words. Knowledge must lead to realization. Just as in the modern age, teachers encourage smart students by guiding them to conduct research. In ancient times, too, Manan (reflection) is a method especially suitable for highly smart students.


5. Four Vedas: the sources of the philosophy of the in ancient India

The Vedas are considered to be the oldest literature in the world and the original source of the philosophy of life in ancient India. The study of these Vedas will give people a thorough understanding of not only the philosophy of life but also the overall structure of ancient Indian culture. Therefore, all the literature and philosophy of India, the Upanishads, Smritis and Pune recognize the superiority of the Vedas [9]. The Vedas occupies a very important place in Indian life. The foundation of Indian culture is the Vedas, the number of which is Rigveda, Samada, Yajuvda and Atavaveda [7, 8, 10]. The Vedas have their own characteristics. Through them, we can understand the culture, civilization, life and philosophy of the ancient Indian people. The Vedas symbolize the main goal of human life, which is pursued by the life-and-death world in the world. The Indian philosophy of life has never accepted that life is purposeless. Before introducing Vedas education in detail, it is necessary to make a brief assessment of these four Vedas, because the education of that period was based on them.

5.1 The Rig Veda

The Rig Veda is not only the earliest work of Hindus, but also the earliest work of all Indian European languages ​​and humans. It laid the foundation of Indian civilization built up by generations. Broadly speaking, it is based on a simple life and noble ideas. Some of Rig Veda’s prayers, such as the well-known Gayatri mantra found in Samaveda and Yajur Veda, touch the highest point of knowledge and have maintained the human soul. Rig Veda itself exhibits an evolution, and the history of Rig Veda is the history of the culture of that era.

5.2 Other Vedas

After Rigvida, three Samita schools appeared one after another, Sama, Yaju and Atkhwa. These Vedic studies ushered in a new kind of literature. The order of the hymns by Rigvida does not match the order of the sacrifices; there are so many hymns that have nothing to do with Miena or sacrifices. In contrast, among the Sama, Yaju, and Atalwa tribes, hymns follow closely in the order of sacrifice. The priest is constantly evolving. Later, higher education associates itself with the clergy and the etiquette aspects of religion. The educational curriculum for all students called Brahma is the same. Each of them must be proficient in the melodies of the scriptures and the ritual aspects of yajna.

However, with the passage of time, due to the increasingly complex nature of the form of sacrifice, people strongly felt the necessity of division of labor, because no single pastor was expected to specialize in the three aspects of yajna.

5.2.1 The Sama Veda

The compilation of all hymns quoted on the occasion of Soma Yajna is called “Sama Veda”.

5.2.2 The Yajur Veda

Yajur Veda is a collection of prose mantras. Although Hotri is responsible for singing hymns during sacrifices, the first class of priests is the hymns sung by Adhvaryus, which is closely related to the dedication activities. Therefore, a separate training school was established to educate these priests. India’s basic prose literature culminates in the Upanishads, while it exists in basic forms in Yajurveda. We caught a glimpse of the religious and secular aspects of Indian life in Yajurveda.

5.2.3 The Atharvaveda

In the beginning, only three Vedas were welcomed. Over time, the fourth Veda was also called Atarvaveda. Its content is more original. Unlike the previous Vedas, most of the mantras in this Vedas are not adapted from Rig Vida. Atharvaveda has a distinct secularity, vivid descriptions of various arts and sciences.


6. Teacher Pupil’s relations

In the Indian concept, the teacher is the spiritual and intellectual father of the taught. Without the help of teachers, it is impossible to carry out any education. He is considered a “guru”, a friend, a philosopher and a guide [10]. If they are poor, the teacher should arrange boarding, accommodation and clothes for the students. Fees are a clear example of such maintenance by teachers. This is a moral obligation for teachers. The teacher must begin to educate his students within one year of his coming. In addition, the teacher is required to teach his disciples everything he knows.

The Hindu theory is that teachers should be paid only at the end of the entire course. It is called “Guru Dakshina” [9, 10, 11, 12]. Of course, teachers have the freedom to refuse. The actual amount of teacher’s remuneration depends on the guardian’s ability. Poor students cannot afford to pay any remuneration for housework, including various manual tasks such as fetching water and collecting wood from the jungle for sacred fire. The poorest of the poor can receive education from teachers. Ancient educational theories and practices prohibit teachers from charging students any fixed fees. Therefore, teachers in ancient India did not have a fixed income. Both Hindus and Buddhist thinkers believe that the relationship between teachers and students is very filial.


7. Present perspective of education

The Indian system of education in general and higher education in particular has always responded well to the challenges of the time. Two decades ago, when the system came under severe criticism that it had allowed the mushrooming of higher education institutions (HEIs), compromising the quality of educational offerings, the Ministry of Human Resource Development (MHRD), now Ministry of Education (MOE) and the University Grants Commission (UGC) took initiatives to restore the standards of education. Consequently, the National Policy on Education (2020) that laid special emphasis on upholding the quality of higher education in India noted certain policy initiatives, keeping in parity with previous policy (1986) [9, 11, 12, 13].

Few recommendations [11, 12] of National Education Policy 2020 (NEP 2020) towards achieving best quality in Education System.

  • Establishment of a National Research Foundation (NRF) to fund outstanding peer-reviewed research and to actively seed research in universities and colleges.

  • Higher education expected to contributes significantly towards sustainable livelihoods and economic development of the nation. As India moves towards becoming a knowledge economy and society, more and younger Indians are likely to aspire for higher education.

  • All colleges currently affiliated to a university shall attain the required benchmarks over time to secure the prescribed accreditation benchmarks and eventually become autonomous degree-granting colleges

  • Model public universities for holistic and multidisciplinary education, at par with Indian Institute of Technology (IITs), Indian Institute of Management (IIMs), etc., called MERUs (Multidisciplinary Education and Research Universities) will be set up and will aim to attain the highest global standards in quality education

  • In order to maintain uniform standards for teacher education, the admission to pre-service teacher preparation programmes shall be through suitable subject and aptitude tests conducted by the National Testing Agency (NTA), and shall be standardized keeping in view the linguistic and cultural diversity of the country

  • A National Mission for Mentoring shall be established, with a large pool of outstanding senior/retired faculty – including those with the ability to teach in Indian languages – who would be willing to provide short and long-term mentoring/professional support to university/college teachers

  • The National Skills Qualifications Framework (NSQF), the monitoring agency of quality will be strengthened further for each discipline vocation and profession. Indian standards will be aligned with the International Standard Classification of Occupations maintained by the International Labour Organization

  • Policy envisions a comprehensive approach to transforming the quality and quantity of research in India. This includes definitive shifts in school education to a more play and discovery- based style of learning with emphasis on the scientific method and critical thinking

  • The regulatory system of higher education will ensure that the distinct functions of regulation, accreditation, funding, and academic standard setting will be performed by distinct, independent, and empowered bodies. These four structures will be set up as four independent verticals within one umbrella institution, the Higher Education Commission of India (HECI).


8. Conclusion

Indian spirituality and meditation are established knowledge tools and expected to be incorporated into the Indian education system in order to strengthen and popularize it. These are unique in the world, so they should be practice and taught in schools from kindergarten. It provides lot of opportunities for students’ personality development along with development of fundamental knowledge and skills. The present education system attempts to achieve significant success in the formation of personality, the development of personality, and the contribution of knowledge to all aspects of learning, social well-being and material prosperity and has been emphasized in National Education Policy 2020 (NEP 2020). The current Indian curriculum development system must develop a special form of education in order to establish harmony between materialism and spiritualism with humans to achieve greater perfection.


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Written By

Sukanta Kumar Naskar and Sushovan Chatterjee

Submitted: 26 May 2021 Reviewed: 14 July 2021 Published: 13 July 2022