The Gurukul system of education in ancient India was related to the quest of studies. This type of education system belonged to the Hindus and the place was called a Gurukul where the guru or the teacher lived with his family members along with his shishyas or students and imparts education to them in diverse fields. Gurukuls were generally established in forests, away from the dean and bustle of normal life. A student or a shishya served his guru for years and gained the faith of the guru with his determination, discipline, sincerity and intelligence before he was provided an opportunity to acquire the knowledge of different subjects.
Life in a gurukul was tough and the shishyas or students had to follow strict discipline. They used to live in very strict surroundings, practice celibacy and cultivate virtue and discipline under the custody of their guru in order to win his confidence and attention. Thus the students had to sacrifice their worldly comfort by getting education in a gurukul. The students or shishyas live together as equals, regardless of their social status, acquire knowledge from the guru and assist the guru by doing the daily works which includes cooking, washing clothes, etc.
Education was imparted orally and this continued even after scripts were introduced since the priestly class did not want to put their knowledge in written form and make it public. Thus, the task for the shishyas was more difficult and they had to remember everything that was taught and gain mastery over the subject. In ancient India gurukul system of education was imparted free and the student after completing their education has to give his guru the gurudakshina. The gurudakshina is a customary sign of tribute, thanks and respect, which can also be monetary or at times can also be an important work the teacher would like his student to complete. In ancient India, 'Jainism and Buddhism' flourished which had a major impact on the educational system.
During the medieval period, universities providing higher education were Takshila, Nalanda, Vikramshila and Ujjain. The Mughals invaded India in this period and introduced the Madrasah form of education. Thus, other religious communities had also accepted the Gurukul form of education but with certain modifications. With the first step of colonial period in India the gurukuls were almost extinct except in some of the remote areas. One of them was in Kerala where the soldier of Nair race had their personal martial gurukuls called Kalaris.
Of late, a number of gurukuls have begun, motivated by a craving to maintain the traditions. One of them is the Ananda Marga Gurukul founded by Ananda Marga in the year, 1990 at Anandanagar in India, having a group of branches in several countries. Vivekananda College close to Madurai is an NAAC -accredited "A" grade self-governing or autonomous college functions under a Gurukul system.
Though with passing time the concept of ancient gurukul has been lost but the hostels of modern times, in a way, reflect this age-old notion. As in gurukuls, in hostels, too, the students are bound by discipline and are their all round development is paid heed. The gurukul system may have become extinct but the teacher-student relationship is still the same in India.