• By Acharya Shunya

The History of the Gurukulam Schooling Format


A gurukulam—a traditional, guru-led school and learning community—was the dominant model of education for several thousand years in India, but in recent history, it has somewhat fallen out of use.

While the gurukulam tradition of education flourished in India from ancient times, literally from the Upanishadic era until shortly before the advent of the modern era, it is almost wiped out from the Indian subcontinent today – both in general, and especially in the field of Ayurveda. Historical reasons, particularly loss of patronage from Hindu kings to the gurukulams, and the socio-political instability during Islamic and British control, made the atmosphere in India inhospitable to intellectual development and the growth of sciences like Ayurveda.

We can look at India’s history to understand why the main way knowledge was transmitted in India, from the beginning of Indian civilization, disintegrated? All was well in ancient India during the reign of Hindu kings, who themselves were graduates from well known gurukulams. Generous royal patronage supported gurukulams dotting the country.

However, the social – political - educational structures started disintegrating with the Muslim invasions and Muslim rule beginning in 12th Century CE. Next, colonization attempts by the Portugese and French, and finally, imposition of British imperial rule starting 1857 onwards, all but destroyed this indigenous and highly spiritualized process of education. So gurukulam process is the old way, not a new way of education, just not so common, nowadays.

Inspired by my own gurukulam learning, at a time when education in the Vedic healing sciences of Ayurveda and Yoga are being re-explored and re-examined worldwide, I have developed a rich alternate model of education, inspired by the gurukulam method of education, at Vedika.

The gurukulam model of education offers students a rare opportunity to learn in an oral tradition of knowledge that has been carefully preserved and passed down in its purest possible form through many generations. The opportunity to connect with Vedika’s long lineage of healers and teachers lends an unparalleled authenticity to the experience of learning Ayurveda, Yoga and Vedanta that cannot be found in any other modern institution or book.

It is facilitating a paradigm shift in enlivening the traditional elements of spiritual self and community evolution of consciousness through study of Vedic scriptures with a teacher (satsangha), experiential learning and personal healing (sadhana), action for community welfare and spirit of selfless service to humanity (seva). In this way, I am reconnecting studentship in Ayurveda, Yoga and Vedanta in the modern era to a deeper spiritual process of personal healing, evolution of consciousness and activating potential for global social transformation.

#TheHistoryoftheGurukulamSchoolingFormat

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