A Spiritual Perspective on Menses (Part-II)

(Continued from Part-I)

– Dr. Athavale & Dr. Nandini Samant

Why is menarche celebrated?

The onset of menstruation, also known as menarche, is one of the most significant milestones in a woman’s life. Though the physiological aspects of menstruation are common across faiths, the social aspects vary. Many faiths across the world, celebrate the menarche in their own unique way.

courtesy : Flickriver                                
courtesy : Smithsonian_photo_contest

Sanātan Dharma looks upon life as an opportunity to make all round efforts to realize God. With menarche, as ovulation begins, conception is now possible. From the perspective of Sanātan Dharma, conception is not just procreation. Conception is important because it gives a jīva an opportunity to take birth and make efforts to move towards Mokṣa. Celebration of menarche imparts a very positive perception of menstruation, and the inherent sense of responsibility towards moral conduct to the young girl.

How can women by avoiding cooking or touching food during menses benefit themselves and society?

Food and water are basic constituents that are absorbed and assimilated at the cellular level. That is why, it is very important that these two components be Sāttvik. During menses, the Raja subtle component in the woman increases. It gets transferred to the food through her touch, thus reducing its spiritual purity. This would affect the entire family adversely at the spiritual level. That is why scriptures advise menstruating women to keep away from cooking activities or touching food cooked for the family and store of water. This is similar to how we do not put salt in milk as this would alter the basic characteristic of the milk.

Subtle picture of food after being touched by a woman during menses

The true measure and analysis of what happens in the subtle (that which is beyond the comprehension of the five senses, mind and intellect) dimension can only be through the medium of the sixth sense. Refer to ‘Subtle picture of a woman during menses’ in the first part of this article. The following is a recreation of the subtle picture based on knowledge perceived by Mr. Nishad Deshmukh, a member of the spiritual research team of Maharshi Adhyatma Vishwavidyalay.

It is apparent from the subtle picture how and why the inherent Sattva component in the food is reduced after a menstruating woman touches it. As the food gets a covering of Raja-Tama and it gets charged with negative vibrations, divine energy (Śakti) and vital energy are unable to enter it. It is to prevent this loss of positivity in the food.

Universal aura scanner (UAS) of food and water before and after being touched by a woman during menses

In addition to the knowledge given in the scriptures and that perceived by seekers from our spiritual research team. A pilot study was conducted in the Spiritual Research Center of Maharshi Adhyatma Vishwavidyalay, Goa, on 5 lady subjects having menses using modern scientific equipment (UAS instrument) to study the effect of touch of a woman having menses on food and water. Refer to ‘Universal Aura Scanner study of a woman during menses’ from the first part of this article.

To begin with, we served food in a plate and water in a glass from the kitchen of the Āśram of Maharshi Adhyatma Vishwavidyalay for the first subject. Care was taken to ensure that the subject did not touch the food and water. We used the UAS to note the readings of the 2 types of negative energies and positive energy in both the food and water served to her. Then we asked the first subject with menses to touch the food in the plate and the glass of water. This contact was for a period of few seconds only. After she had touched the food and water, we repeated the above-mentioned UAS readings of both the food and water served to her. We repeated this for each of the remaining 4 subjects. Each subject was separately served the same food and water from the same kitchen. We then repeated the above experiment with the same subjects 15 days later, when the subjects were in their non-menses phase. The readings are given as under-

UAS readings for food and water touched by women in their non-menses period and during their menses

Conclusions of the experiment

Regarding subtle negative energies : It is our experience of the past 10 years with the Universal Aura Scanner that it is not uncommon to find subtle negative energies in inanimate objects or animate beings. This is because of the overwhelming rise in Raja-Tama in the present times. It is apparent form the above tables that both types of subtle negative energies were completely absent in food and water before being touched by the subjects during the experiments done in their non-menses period and also during their menses. This is because the food and water came from the kitchen of a highly Sāttvik Āśram, where many Saints reside and food is cooked entirely by seekers as their spiritual practice. However, subtle negative energies were found in very high proportion in both the food and water after the subjects touched them during their menses.

Regarding positive energy : It is our experience with UAS studies, that it is not necessary that positive energy be present in inanimate objects or animate beings. However, high positive energy was found in both food and water before the subjects touched them. The reason is the same as explained in the point above. This positive energy in both food and water increased when the seekers touched them during their non-menses period. This is a reflection of the high positive energy generated in them due to their spiritual practice. The exception to this was Subject no. 3, who is deeply affected by subtle negative energies. In her case, the positive energy was found to be marginally decreased after she touched the food and water. When these same seekers touched food and water from the same Āśram during their menses, the positivity in the food and water was completely wiped out in the case of 4 subjects and greatly reduced in the case of Subject no. 2. This study using a modern scientific equipment gives us an objective insight into the extent of detrimental effect of touching food and water by a woman during her menses.

That our sages perceived this more than 5000 years ago, before the advent of any kind of scientific measuring equipment bears ample testimony to their highly enlightened status! Not only this, they devised and implemented appropriate steps at basic day-to-day life activity level to prevent the adverse effect of menses from affecting the spiritual purity of the family.

How can women by refraining from spiritual activities such as pūjā or entering a temple during menses benefit themselves and society?

त्रिरात्रं रजस्वलाशुचिर्भवति । (वसिष्ठधर्मसूत्र .)

A woman will be Ashuchi (spiritually impure) during three (days and) nights (during menstruation).

साध्वाचारा न तावत्स्याद्रजो यावत्प्रवर्तते । (अङ्गिरसस्मृति ३७)

Do not perform any spiritual activities like pūjā, visiting temple, etc. during menstruation.

Women being advised to refrain from spiritual activities during menses is perceived as discriminatory by the modern world. This is simply not so. Sanātan Dharma has prescribed this restriction from the perspective of preventing the woman from incurring harm at the spiritual level, which would affect her at the physical and mental level too. For being competent to perform spiritual activity, shaucha is required at the bodily, mind and prāṇa level. Just as strict hygiene is required to benefit from a surgical operation, so also shaucha is required to obtain benefit from spiritual activities.

Both men and women enter a state of ‘Ashaucha’at various times in their lives such as during birth or death in immediate family. Menses also bring about a state of ashaucha in a woman. How this happens at the level of various kośas is explained –

State of shaucha in women during menses

It is apparent from the above table how the woman becomes incompetent to perform spiritual activities as it is having adverse effect on her due to her ashaucha status during menses.

1.The purpose of any spiritual activity like a pūjā or Yajña is to make the prāṇa to rise upwards. This activates the Kundalini and makes it to rise. During menses, apāna vāyu is activated which moves in the downward direction to bring about excretion of menstrual tissues. So there is a conflict at prāṇa level. This causes an imbalance of dośas (namely Vāta, Pitta, Kapha) as per Ayurveda. This affects the woman at various levels.

2.Every temple has an idol in which prāṇpratiśṭha of that particular deity principle has been done. This means the deity principle has been invoked in the Idol. Hence, it is a place of high spiritual energy (Śakti). Being in a temple causes the prāṇa to rise in upward direction.

As a consequence of the above points 1 and 2,

1.A menstruating woman, in whom the apāna vāyu is activated, would be adversely affected by the upward movement of prāṇa resulting from any spiritual activity. This may not necessarily be apparent in the first instance, but repeated exposure during menses would affect the woman seriously.

2.However, as the adverse effect of spiritual activity on a menstruating woman happens at a subtle level, it may not be apparent to her. This is similar to the fact that most people are not able to perceive the adverse subtle effect of non-vegetarian food on them. Even if the adverse effect is immediately experienced, the woman may not connect the distress to the spiritual ritual or visiting a temple.

3.The Energy generated from spiritual activities is also diluted due to the influence of high Raja in the menstruating woman. The temple, the temple at home, pūjā, Yajñas etc. are sources of spiritual energy and Sattva subtle component. We as individuals and collectively as society benefit and in a way highly dependent on this source of Sattva for our day-to-day as well as overall long term well-being and success. By polluting these sources of spiritual energy and Sattva with the Raja in a menstruating woman, we are effectively destroying our basic sources of spiritual well-being.

How can we benefit from the advice of scriptures in our present lifestyle?

It has been prescribed from the perspective of the well-being of the woman as well as society at large. However, it could be difficult to follow it in the modern setup with nuclear families, especially where both spouses work outside home. We can still benefit from the advice by understanding the underlying science with an open mind. Based on this understanding, we can see what all we can do to limit the effect of the increased Raja in the woman during menses.

(1) One sound option is to focus on chanting as per our religion of birth or ‘ॐ नमो भगवते वासुदेवाय।’ as much as possible during menses, especially during activities affecting the whole family like cooking. This sattvikta increasing measure is an efficient way of reducing the effect of Raja.

(2) It is best to refrain from going to the temples or participating in rituals. We can get the daily pūjā at home done by other family members.

(3) The effect of increased Raja emitted from the woman during menses in the premises can be reduced by sprinkling gomutra with tulsi leaf on all days of the menses and after the 5th day head bath of the woman with menses. For best results, use of gomutra of desi cows, not jersey ones, is recommended.

(4) Having a head bath on the fifth day of menses and adding a few drops of gomutra to the water used for bathing as well as washing the clothes and bedding helps remove the Raja present in the body of the woman and her clothes.

(5) Just as Raja increases in a woman during menses, Raja-Tama increases in both men and women with thoughts of anger, greed, jealousy, lust, laziness, etc. However, most are not aware of this as we are not able to perceive the subtle vibrations which come with regular spiritual practice. Menses is clearly apparent, hence, there is opportunity to take precautionary measures. Chanting as a form of spiritual practice is an effective way for both men and women to minimize the ill-effects of Raja-Tama in our lives from all sources – physical, mental and spiritual. If you cannot practice the whole, practice at least as much as you can.

The Shrimad Bhagawadgītā (2.40) advises-

नेहाभिक्रमनाशोऽस्ति प्रत्यवायो न विद्यते |

स्वल्पमप्यस्य धर्मस्य त्रायते महतो भयात् ||

In this endeavor there is no loss or diminution, and a little advancement on this path can protect one from the most dangerous type of fear.

(Acknowledgement : Menstruation Practices in Hinduism : What & Why? – A Talk by Nithin Sridhar)

 Dr. Athavale M.B.B.S., Clinical Hypnotherapist & Dr. Nandini Samant M.B.B.S., D.P.M. (Consulting Psychiatrist), Maharshi Adhyatma Vishwavidyalay, Goa

Homa Organic Farming for Sustainability and Climate Change Adaptation (Part-I)

Brief Resume-page-001

– Sh. Anand Gaikwad

The methodology of organic farming, “Chaitanya Krishi” based on Vedic Sciences (Homa organic farming) was adapted and got further evolved by the farm situated on the bank of river Barvi and situated in the village known as Dahagaon, Tal. Kalyan, Dist. Thane, Maharashtra State. Organic farming has started on this farm since 1998. In July 2010, a Resonance Point for performance of Agnihotra was established and since then the methodology of Homa organic farming i.e. “Chaitanya Krishi” based on Vedic agricultural sciences/Vedic Parampara or Indian Traditional Agricultural Heritage has been undertaken for scientific development. In August 2014, the Maharashtra State Government has recognized the owner (Shri Anand Gaikwad) of this farm with a prestigious award “Krishi Bhushan Sendriya Sheti-2013” for Organic Farming.

After establishment of Resonance Point, for performing Agnihotra and other Yajnas, in July 2010, the development of this methodology on a scientific basis have undertaken on this farm. A fusion of Biodynamic farming practices (like use of BD 500, BD 501, preparation of BD compost, CPP etc) and Homa farming can bring the best from both to deal with the problems of pollution and for improvement in the soil health and vitality of food. In agriculture the two spheres which need judicious management are, “Biosphere” and “Rhizosphere” and the methodology of this working, which has been evolved and is getting further developed at this farm, seems to offer sound agronomic practices for restoration of balance in natural resources, health of the soil and for sustainable agriculture.

The salient features of this methodology are given in this technical note.

Fundamental Principles :

  • Holistic approach for production of food.
  • Holistic Resource Management for sustainable agriculture.
  • Rhizosphere and Biosphere Management with organic farming practices for improvement in soil health, healthy plant life, animal life and human life.

Panchsheel for development of organic farming :

Acharya Vinoba Bhave’s definition of Agriculture is as under:

शेती एक सांस्कृतिक नवनिर्माण करणारी सृजनशील जीवनशैली आहे. आनंददायी कल्याणकारी संस्कृती आहे. (केवळ) धंदा नाही धर्म आहे.

Agriculture is the basis of creating permanent social order and civilization. Ecological duty of a human being is to return to nature or basically to soil that which belongs to it i.e. – biomass to earth and fruit and produce to the man. This is either through cattle to complete the nature’s cycle or by making compost and returning it back to the soil to create humus.

सुस्था भवन्तु कृषकाः धनधान्यसमन्विताःकृषिपराशर

susthā bhavantu kṛṣakāḥ dhanadhānyasamanvitāḥ – kṛṣiparāśara

“Let the farmer be happy, healthy and wealthy”

Holistic approach for production of wholesome nutrient food – Healthy Soil – Healthy Food – Healthy Life “So long as one feeds on food from unhealthy soil, the spirit will lack the stamina to free itself from the prison of body” – Rudolf Steiner, Father of Bio-dynamic Farming.

कृषिः यज्ञेन कल्पताम्। प्राणो यज्ञेन कल्पताम्। यज्ञो यज्ञेन कल्पताम्।

kṛṣi yajñena kalpatām | prāo yajñena kalpatām | yajño yajñena kalpatām |

Dev-yajñas and Bhut-yajñas should be performed by landholder for agriculture and environment (Kashyapiya Krishi Sukti).

The gospel truth about creating and keeping ecological balance through Yajña is given in Bhagvadgīta (3.14) which states as under:

अन्नाद् भवन्ति भूतानि पर्जन्यादन्नसम्भवः।

यज्ञात् भवन्ति पर्जन्यः यज्ञः कर्मसमुद्भवः॥

annād bhavanti bhūtāni parjanyādannasambhava |

yajñāt bhavanti parjanya yajña karmasamudbhava ||

Simply stated in proper order, it would mean:

यज्ञात् भवन्ति पर्जन्यः yajñāt bhavanti parjanya (due to yajña it rains)

पर्जन्यादन्नसम्भवः parjanyādannasambhava (rains produce food)

अन्नाद् भवन्ति annād bhavanti bhūtāni (all living beings survive on food)

agnihotra

(Source of Image: https://agnihotra.pl/en/agnihotra/)

In respect of cloud formation and Rain Induction Techniques mentioned in Śatapatha Brāhmana of Śukla Yajurveda are as follows:

अग्नेर्वै धूमः जायते agnervai dhūma jāyate {Agni/ yajña creates Water Vapours (aerosol nano particles)}

धूमात् अभ्रम् dhūmāt abhram {Water vapours (aerosol nanoparticles ) form clouds}

अभ्रात् वृष्टिः abhrāt vṛṣṭi[Clouds give rains]

“Heal the atmosphere and healed atmosphere heals you”, “Agnihotra is the basic Homa for all Homa fire practices given in the ancient Vedic Sciences of bio-energy, psychotherapy, medicine, agriculture biogenetics, climate engineering and interplanetary communication”  (Shri Vasant Paranjape in, “Homa Therapy our Last Chance”). The positive effects of Agnihotra are an outcome of simultaneous functioning of many subtle scientific principles such as, effect of chanting of specific sounds on the atmosphere and mind, energies emanating from the pyramid-shape, nutritional effect of burning of medicinal ingredients and the effects of bio-rhythms of sun, moon and natural phenomena. It provides the foundation for healthy life: fresh air, clean water, healthy soil, vital organic food and a peaceful atmosphere. It is the need of the hour and a simple solution to our global crisis that anyone can apply – Agnihotra is a simplified Dev-yajña. 

(to be continued…..)

Sh. Anand Gaikwad, Krishi Bhushan Sendriya  Sheti  M. S. & Retd. Executive Director/Company Secretary

Children in Puranas

Great personalities have always their bright childhood as continuity of qualities is a fundamental truth-

 Dhruva

In some Purāṇas, we find story of a child Dhruva who was a symbol of firm determination and profound devotion towards God. Dhruva was son of King Uttānapāda  and his wife Sunīti . The king also had another son named Uttama, born to his second queen Suruchi, who was the preferred object of his affection. Once, five year old, Dhruva was sitting on his father’s lap at the King’s throne. Suruchi, the step-mother, who was jealous of the Dhruva, forcefully removed him from his father’s lap. When Dhruva protested and asked if he could not be allowed to sit on his father’s lap, Suruchi scolded him ruthlessly saying; ‘only God can allow you that privilege. Go ask him.’

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(Source of Image : Daily Bhaskar.com)

Sunīti, a lady of gentle nature but lesser favorite wife of king, tried to console her distressed son, but Dhruva was determined to hear about his fate from the Lord.  Seeing his firm determination, mother Sunīti allowed him to go to the forest. Dhruva was determined to seek for himself his rightful place. Noticing his resolution, the divine sage Nārada appeared before him and tried to abstain him from obtaining severe austerity at such an early age. But Dhruva was firm on his decision, and therefore, overwhelmed sage guided him towards his goal by teaching rituals and mantras to meditate and please the lord Viṣṇu. The one mantra, taught by Nārada which was effectively used by Dhruva, was Om Namo Bhagavate Vāsudevāya. Little Boy fixing his mind on Lord, started his meditation, and went without food and water for six months for the gratification of Viṣṇu. His tapasyā shook the heavens, and Lord appeared before him, but the child would not open his eyes being merged in the inner vision of Viṣṇu’s form described by Nārada. Lord Viṣṇu adopted a strategy to disappear that inner vision. Immediately Dhruva opened his eyes, and seeing outside what he had been seeing in his mental vision, prostrated himself before the Lord. He could not utter a single word. The Lord touched his right cheek by his divine conch and that sparked off his speech. He recited a beautiful poem of twelve powerful verses in the praise of the Lord which is called Dhruva-stuti. The Dhruva-stuti as mentioned in the ViṣṇuPurāṇa is quite different from the Dhruva-stuti of BhāgavataPurāṇa.

Having spent a long time in the Lord’s commemoration, he even forgot the objective of his tapasyā, and only asked for a life in memory of the Lord. Pleased by his tapasyā and by his stuti, Viṣṇu granted his wish and further decreed that the child would attain Dhruvapada – the state where he would become a celestial body which would not even be touched by the mahā-pralaya. Dhruva returned to his kingdom. Now he was warmly received by his family. He attained the crown at the age of six and ruled his kingdom for many decades in a fair manner. Today people highlight any fix position or firm decision, saying it as ‘dhruva.

 Prahlāda

Prahlāda, a young boy is known in the Purāṇas for his firm devotion towards Lord Viṣṇu. Demon king, Hiraṇyakaṥyapa was his father who had commanded everybody in his kingdom to worship only him. But his son, Prahlāda refused to worship his father and became an ardent devotee of Lord Nārāyaṇa. Hiraṇyakaṥyapa tried several ways to kill his son Prahlāda but Lord Viṣṇu saved him every time. Finally, he asked his sister, Holikā to enter a blazing fire with Prahlāda in her lap. For, Hiraṇyakaṥyapa knew that Holikā had a boon, whereby, she could enter the fire untouched. Holikā took her seat in a blazing fire with Prahlāda in her lap. Holikā was not aware that the boon worked only when she entered the fire alone. Prahlāda, who kept chanting the name of Lord Narāyaṇa, came out unharmed, as the lord blessed him for his extreme devotion.

prahlad-as-the-devotee-of-lord-vishnu

(Source of Image : http://www.padhokhelo.com)

Prahlāda was finally saved by Lord Narasiṁha (half-man half-lion), a prominent avatāra of Viṣṇu who killed his wicked father too. After the death of Hiraṇyakaṥyapa, Prahlāda took his father’s kingdom and ruled peacefully and virtuously. He was known for his generosity, kindness, determination and faith in God. In the story, we see that God saved his devotees and punished the evil. Therefore, Prahlāda is regarded as a symbol of goodness and divine faith.

– Dr. Shashi TiwariGeneral Secretary, WAVES –India & Former Prof. of Sanskrit, Maitreyi College, University of Delhi

Characteristics of Ancient Indian Educational System

– Dr. Raj Kumar, Assistant Professor, Institute of Advanced Sciences, Dartmouth, MA.

It is sad to see the status of the current educational system. Whether it is student-teacher relationship, related to fee, control of the state or central government, mental/ethical development of students, imparting social responsibilities or providing pure knowledge…..everywhere you will find flaws and need some serious introspection. These are the few reasons why we have fewer enrollments in higher studies (out of ~ 140 million High school students in India only 1.8 million students opt for postgraduate or MPhil or PhD). Other issues are: having less trained workforce and unemployment rates among higher educated personnel (among literates unemployment rate is higher among better qualified, unemployment rate is 7.23% among illiterate and 10.98% among literate (2011 census)). Although the primary objective of modern educational system is to satisfy modern societal needs, but it is not able to address this adequately. So I thought to look into what kind of education system was available in ancient times, and how that system operated.

The ancient education system can be best described by the following verse from Vishṇu Puraṇa.

तत्कर्मयन्नबन्धायसाविद्यायाविमुक्तये। आयासायापरंकर्मविद्यऽन्याशिल्पनैपुणम्॥

Tatkarmyannabandhāyasāvidyāyāvimuktaye।  Āyāsāyāparṁ karmavidya’nyāśilpanaipuṇm।।

 (Vishṇu Puraṇa 1-19-41)

That is action, which does not promote attachment; that is knowledge which liberates. All action is a mere effort/hardship; all other knowledge is merely another skill/craftsmanship.

The above quotation is the best portraiture of the Indian educational system in the past, and the Vedas form the basis of such a system. The word ‘Vidya’ is derived from the root vid, to know, which the same root as Veda is. Since the entire educational system is based on the Veda, Vidya garnered by Veda enables a person to know the truth regarding the universe and the individual relationship with the universe. The Rishis understood that student should have self motivation to succeed, and teaching should suit the natural inclination of a student. It’s the duty of a Guru to test the student and impart knowledge in the subject of his/her liking. That’s why in ancient times a teacher/guru provided only suggestions/advice to his students, and students needed to put their hearts and minds behind that to assimilate the knowledge.

This educational system teaches consciousness, self-control and purity of thought and action. A person who is not selfish and well-educated leads a pure life, conquers avarice by generosity or hatred by love. Such a person does not bother about caste, creed or color. All these distinctions come when education leads to the patch of commercial contracts, but when it inculcates purity, selflessness and self-realization, then it makes individual to realize the ideals of uplifting. It is clear that this system is based on the idea of attaining perfection without degrading self or humanity as a whole. This system is based on three fold system of Vidya; a) Parā-Vidyā, b) Aparā-Vidyā, and c) Kāla. Parā-Vidyā helps one to attain pure-consciousness, Aparā-Vidyā teaches the law of nature and the cause of other phenomenon, and Kāla deals with kauśala (applied science) (Ramdasi PhD thesis).

guru_shishya

Vedic education starts with an intimate relationship between teacher and the student. The relationship between the teacher and his students starts with a religious ceremony called Upanayana. By Upanayana ritual teacher impregnates his student with his spirit, and start students new birth. After this student is known as Dvija (born afresh; Agarwal, 2011). In this education system, student finds his teacher, live with him as family member, and treated by teacher as his son in every way. The school was in natural surroundings, Hermitage, away from urban distractions, and function in solitude and silence. In the words of Rabindranath Tagore: “A most wonderful thing was notice in India is that here the forest, not the town, is the foundation head of all its civilization. Wherever in India its earliest and most wonderful manifestations are notices, we find the men have not come into such close contact as to be rolled or fused into a compact mass. There, tree and plants, river and lakes, had ample opportunity to live in close relationship with men. In these forests, though there was human society, there was enough of open space, of aloofness; there was no jostling. Still it render it all the brighter. It is the forest that nurtured the two great ancient ages of India, the Vedic and the Buddhist. As did the Vedic Rishis, Buddha also showered his teaching in the many woods of India. The current civilization that flowed from its forests inundated the whole India.

Every education system is always associated with the social life of the time. In ancient time, the society was divided into four categories or Varṇās; the Brahmaṇa, the Kṣatriya, the Vaiśya and the Śudras. Education was given in the beginning mainly to the first three Varṇā of the society.  Initially, everything was taught to all the three classes. During the Vedic ages, persons of the same family group followed different occupations according to their individual taste. As time passed on and Varṇās were required to do some imparted duties (mainly in post-Vedic era or Upaniśad era), subjects got divided according to Varṇās. Birth not occupation then came to be regarded as the basis of the caste system. The Brahmaṇas learnt the Vedic texts, the Kṣatriya learnt the Veda, science of warfare and Arthsastra, and Vaiśya were taught commerce, agriculture, etc. Śudras were not entitled to formal education, they are apprenticed under the skilled individual in their trade and craft. In fact, for a time being they were also allowed for formal education. In the Baudhāyana Grihya Sutra, ŚudraRathakār was allowed to have the Upanayana Sanskar (Bakshi et al., 2005). Budhayana says: “Let him initiate a Brahmaṇa in Spring, a Kṣatriya in Summer, A Vaiśya in Autumn, a Rathakār in the rainy season or all of them in Spring”.

वसन्तेब्राह्मणामुपनयीतग्रीष्मे राजन्यं शरदि वैश्यं वर्षासुरथकारमिति।  सर्वानेववा वसन्ते।

Vasante brāhmaṇāmupanayῑtagrῑṣme rājanyaṁ śaradi vaiśyaṁ varṣāsurathakāramiti। sarvānevavā vasante।।

(Baudhyana Grihya Sutra 2-5-6)

Notably, ŚudraRathakār is defined in this book as an offspring of a Vaiśya male and Śudra female.

In addition to this four Varṇās, there are four Āśramas which an individual is expected to experience in his/her lifetime; the Brahmacharya, the Grhastha, the Vanaprastha, and  the Sanyasa. These Varṇās and stages of life give us an idea of the aims and ideals of the ancient Indian education system.

Education was free and it was the teacher’s responsibility to take care of the primary needs of the students. Debate, discussion and seminar are essential parts of learning involving listening, contemplation, comprehension, self study and recall (Ramkumar, 2014). Rote learning was the technique used for elementary education. At the secondary level Vedic studies and writing was introduced, and higher education consisted of advanced study of the metaphysical subjects. Several schools were operated those days such as Pariśad, Tola, Forest colleges, Court schools, Temple colleges, Mathas, Ghatikas, and Agraharas (https://ithihas.wordpress.com/2013/08/28/ancient-indian-education-system-from-the-beginning-to-10th-c-a-d/). Teachers had designation according to their methods of teaching: Acharya (teach Vedas without charging fees), Upadhyaya (taught a portion of Veda or Vedangas as his profession), Charakas (wondering teachers), Guru (imparting education to his disciples), Yaujanasatika (teachers with their profound scholarship), and Sikshaka (teaching arts like dancing) (https://ithihas.wordpress.com/2013/08/28/ancient-indian-education-system-from-the-beginning-to-10th-c-a-d/).Various schools specializing in subjects like philosophy, law, the sacrificial ritual, astronomy, grammar and logic appear to come into existence since 500 B. C. Under the Brahamic auspices, universities like Takhsila were established. University curriculum included physical sciences, arts, literature, philosophy, logic, mathematics, astronomy, medicine and theology. In the course of time distinction between Arts and Science were drawn and practical pursuits were included in the arts. In later Vedic era, they evolved and expanded the curricula in all the fields of knowledge. With the expansion of education system, enrollment increases, which necessitated in development of various branches of specialization. This also amalgamated various school systems to create universities like Takshila and Nalanda (Sakunthalamma, 1994). These universities had various departments with specialties. In those days the departments were –

  1. Agnisthana: This was the place where fire worship and other prayers took place. Probably here the performance of religious rites and rituals were taught.
  2. Brahmasthana: This was the department of the Veda.
  3. Vishnusthana: In this department Rajnti, Arthanti and Vārtā were taught.
  4. Mahendrasthana: This was the department where military sciences were taught.
  5. Vaivasvatasthana: This department is for Astronomy.
  6. Somasthana: Department of Botany.
  7. Garudasthana: This was the department which dealt with the transport and conveyance.
  8. Kartikeyasthana: In this department the science of organization of military, patrolling and battalions, and the army was taught.

The examination was an oral one. The student was required to give oral answers in a congregation of scholars. If he satisfied them, he was given a degree or title, somewhat similar to the PhD dissertation defense today. The consensus of the scholar’s opinion was essential for obtaining such a title.

There are evidences that girls were admitted in the Vedic schools or Charanas (Agarwal, 2011). A Kathi is a female student of Katha school. There were hostels for female students and they were known as Chhatrisala. Though the state did not include education as one of the subjects under its administration, the head of the state and other wealthy merchants, etc., encouraged these activities with their endowments. After the student completed his course (in general, 12 years of learning), the school organized Samavartna Sanskar, which is similar to convocation today. Taittirῑya Upaniśad’s verse 1.11.1 describes address of Guru to his students, in which he exhorts to speak truth, practice social ethics and not to neglect the pursuit of knowledge. They were also advised not to forget the debt to the Gods and ancestors. According to Taittrῑya Upaniśad’s verse 1.11.2, students were specially asked to see God in their mother, father, teacher and guest. Students were also advised to give gifts to their teachers sincerely and according to their means. Finally the teacher ended his address with the words that what all he said was the import of the Vedas, the divine scripture, which was to be meditated upon.

References:

Sankuthalamma V. (1994). The trends of education in ancient India. PhD thesis, Shri Venkateshwara University, Tirupati, Andhra Pradesh, India.

Agarwal, V. (2011). Principles of Education. Chapter 1. Lakshay Publication, India.

Ramkumar, A. M. (2014). “Gurukul to University”: Ancient education system and the present day. Golden Research Thoughts, 3, 1-5.

Ramdasi, N.R. Visualising Indian heritage digital library metaphor. Research paper of PhD thesis. C- Dac, Pune.

Bakshi S.R., Gajrani S., and Singh, Hari (2005). Early Aryans to Swaraj. Volume-3, 25 – 26.