5:18 pm - Tuesday June 14, 5611


Education in Later Vedic Period

History unveils the fact that there was a well-planned system of education in later Vedic period. Education at that time began with the ceremony of Upanayana, (first described in the Atharvaveda). The student wore the skin of ntelope, the girdle of Kusa grass and collected fuel for worshipping god Agni. Begging for his preceptor was also one of his daily duties. The pupil lived with his teacher. Begging for alms was prescribed for the pupil to produce in him a spirit of humility. The student as a rule studied with his preceptor for twelve years. There were many scholars, who after completing their education wandered in quest of knowledge. They were called Charakas. There were also associations for advanced study and research. One such association was Panchala-parisad. Kings also organized conferences where philosophers participated in discussions. King Janaka of Videha organized one such Conference that was presided over by sage Yajnavalkya. The ultimate aim of education in later Vedic period was the attainment of highest knowledge, the knowledge of Brahman or Atman as the supreme reality. The purpose of education in later Vedic period was thus to achieve the utmost knowledge-the knowledge of soul and God. As stated by the scholar, Dr. Radha Kumud Mookerjee, "The ultimate aim of education was the attainment of highest knowledge, the knowledge of Bramha or Atma as the sole and supreme reality. But it can be attained only by complete conquest of desire and renunciation of the world". There were many ladies like Gargi and Maitreyi who took part in philosophical discussions.

Education in the later Vedic period was strategically limited to the main three upper castes. The guru shishya tradition as one of the most sacred traditions of India was accepted in the sphere of education in later Vedic period. The subjects of study during that time included the four Vedas, Grammar, Mathematics, Mineralogy, Logic, Ethics, Brahma-Vidya, Biology, Military Science, Astronomy, and Medicine. Dhanur Vidya or war tactics was also a part of education in later Vedic period.

There had been a vast progression in the sphere of education in the later Vedic period. Debates among scholars used to be held to decide religious and philosophical disputes. The debate between Yojnavalkaya and Gargi in the Sabha of Janak is an unforgettable historical truth. Kings used to give away prizes to winners in debates.

Literature also flourished as an immediate effect of the advancement of education in later Vedic period. As remarked by one of the scholars, "The age of the later Vedic literature of Brahmans and Upanishads is universally admitted as the golden age of literature and intellectual progress of which the highest level is registered in the works known as Aranyakas and Upanishads".


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