What We Can Learn From The Gurukuls?

Posted on July 9, 2012 in Specials

By Nikhil Borker:

Nowadays it is common to hear or read about students in school being bullied on the basis of their race, caste or color. Adolescents are kidnapping their own friends for money. Gunshots are heard in school toilets. Students are engaging in acts of obscenity in the school. All these examples hint towards a lack of social ethics among the present generation. This makes me ponder upon the importance of education imparted in Gurukuls in the iron age. Not only did these institutions teach children the invaluable teachings of the Vedas and Upanishads, or for that matter the art of warfare, they were taught something even more essential, the ‘Dharmas’ or moral values which seem to be missing from modern education.

A school is the place where a person spends about 5 % of his/her life. Moreover 40% of the time in the formative years is consumed in attending school. Thus, the influence of schools in shaping the future of a child is tremendous. The academic skills imparted by schools are no doubt indispensable, but these can only make you an able professional. In order to become a good human being social and ethical values are vital. For a democratic nation like India to thrive respect and tolerance are the bare essentials. Caring, compassion and willingness to help the needy can be some other additions to the list. Secondly, focus should be on teaching in a holistic manner such that a student enjoys and grasps the content. Otherwise even the academic routine becomes dull and monotonous. In order to avoid the degradation of students, the CBSE has proposed a new scheme of evaluation for classes 9th and 10th in which about 10% of the marks in every subject will be devoted to questions on social ethics and moral values. For example an economics examination will ask a student a question like “Suppose a man has four members in his family and a servant who has always served him faithfully. Should he give the servant a share of his possessions?”. This is an extremely positive step towards reforming the education system. Not only will it help students solve the problems of life in an ethical manner but also facilitate them to maintain good interpersonal relationships, both at home as well as work.

Although ethical education seems to be a favourable proposition, there are certain controversial issues such as abortion, capital punishment, religion etc, which can’t be discussed freely at a public level. Here comes the role of the parents. It is better if such topics are discussed at home. Apart from imparting good values in a child it will improve the child—parent relationship as well. Summing up, schools should take a leaf from the book of the centuries old Gurukuls and take up the responsibility of providing both academic as well as moral education. Only then can we have a society which is not judged by the percentage of its youth but by the integrity of their character.