Gurukul was a vast education system in India a long ago, where a student (Shishya/Pathak) lives with their teacher (Guru) and gathered all the knowledge to survive in the world. 

Gurukul simply means a community (or an “Ashram”) where a teacher and his students live together and learn about all the Vedas. In another word, a small village where only those people live who want to seek knowledge or give knowledge. 

Guru means a teacher, while Kul refers to community. You can call it a Gurukul (or Gurukula) if there is only one community, but for many you can say Gurukuls, Gurukulas or Gurukulam.

Gurukulas had a unique way of teaching back then in India. All students were involved in daily household chores, they not only did their chores but helped the entire domain. Keeping the Ashram clean was their jobs. The Guru (teacher) observed everything. He would make sure that everyone was involved in the daily routines and followed instructions, regardless of their family background or social status. 

The Guru would get up before sunrise, go to a nearby river and bathe after his morning routine. All the students would follow him similarly. Then they would go to the nearest village and ask for donations for food, bringing it back to their community (Ashram or Kul). The Guru’s wife, referred to as Guru Mata or Guru-Ma, cooked the food with the help from the students. Unmarried Gurus (teachers) would get help from their students to prepare the food. 

This ancient education system in India was beneficial to students for its discipline, cordiality, and knowledge. Knowledge was imparted on cultural roots and epics, with the medium of education being Sanskrit.

Parents (Mataji and Pitaji) would send their boys at a very young age and meet them only once they were done with their education. It used to be an endless wait for parents and children to get reunited. Students would enter Gurukuls at age six or seven and come back on attaining adulthood, ready to get married.

Girls were homeschooled and were provided with the knowledge of how to behave like ladies or wives once they grew up. Some girls had a passion to learn the art of warfare as well, and they did if their parents allowed them. For example, Rani Laxmibai and Kaikeyi were great warriors of their times.

As long as the students stayed at Gurukuls, they observed Brahmacharya (celibacy). Before leaving the Gurukul, they would give Guru Dakshina to their Gurus and promise them that they will follow in their Guru’s path outside the Gurukuls. After coming out of Gurukul, all students turned out to be true gentlemen.

We still have some Gurukuls in India, modernized to adjust with the current era.

Leave a Reply