Historical story

Chapter – 23 – Nature of Education in Ancient India and Major Education Centers (B)

Last updated:2022-07-25

Female education in ancient India

Women's education in Vedic period

In the Vedic period, special emphasis was given on women's education. They were equal to men in knowledge and education. Gargi silenced Yajnavalakya with his cryptic questions in Janaka's court. Yajnavalkya's wife Maitreyi was very intelligent. The women of that era were skilled in many things. There are mentions of many learned women during the Rigveda period, many of whom also adored the hymns of Rigveda.

Among them were many talented scholars like Lopamudra, Ghosha, Sikta, Vishwavara, Nivavari etc. It is known from the Grihyasutras that the Upanayana and Samvartana rites of women were also performed during that period. The Upanayana ceremony was performed before the beginning of education and the Samvartan ceremony was performed after the end of education. Therefore, it is estimated that in the Sutra-yuga, women also used to lead a celibate life to get education like men.

At the time of sage-tarpan, it was instructed to take the names of sages and women like Gargi, Vachnavi, Sulbha, Maitreyi, Barva Pratheyi etc. At that time there were two types of women – one Sadyovadhu and the other Brahmavadini. 'Sadyovadhu' Before getting married, she used to observe celibacy fast and 'Brahmavadini' Staying engaged in the acquisition of knowledge throughout her life, she followed celibacy. In those days, women used to sit in seminaries and debate with men.

Women's education in the epic period

Even in the epic period, the importance of women's education remained. Kaushalya and Tara were occultists. Sita used to do Sandhya Puja and Atrei studied Vedanta. Sulabha, mentioned in the Mahabharata, studied Vedanta throughout her life. Atreyi was educated in Valmiki Ashram along with Luv and Kush. Queen Draupadi was a Pandita. Uttara received music and dance lessons from Arjuna. In the later period, there was a barrier in the education of women.

Women's education in the Buddhist period

Well educated women have been mentioned in Buddhist and Jain texts. Sanghamitra went to Lanka to preach and propagate Buddhism. Women like Subha, Anopama etc. were well versed in philosophy. In Jain texts, there is mention of educated women like Jayanti, Sahasranika etc. Upadhyaya's wife was called Upadhyayani and Acharya's wife was called Acharyani. The girl students were called adhyatris. Patanjali has mentioned an acharya named Audmedhya whose student 'Audmedhya' Were called For girl students, there were chhatris-shalas.

Women's education in Maurya period

BC Acharya Vatsyayana of the 4th century mentions the study of 64 Angavidyas for women. She has also mentioned Upadhyaya, Upadhyayi, Acharya, etc., from which it is known that during that period women also used to do the work of teaching in the Acharya clans.

Women's education in memory period

With the coming of the era of memories, the Upanayana and Samvartan rites of women stopped, but women's education continued in the rich and highly prestigious families.

Women's education in the Gupta period

In the Gupta period, women's education was as per the instructions of the Smritis. There is a mention of some upper class women being scholars and artists during this period. 'Abhigyan Shakuntalam' Anusuya has been described as the knower of history. 'Malti Madhav' Malti has been described as skilled in painting. Possibly only women used to give education to women. 'Amarkosh' Words like Acharya, Upadhyaya etc. have been used in this.

Shudra-education in ancient India

There was no varna division in the Rigvedic period. Therefore no member of the society is likely to be deprived of education. In the later Vedic period, the varna system took shape, yet no one was considered a Shudra by birth. According to Shukra Niti- 'No one is Brahmin, Kshatriya, Vaishya, Shudra or Mlechcha by birth in this world, it is only by virtue and karma distinction.'

Therefore, it can be inferred that the Shudras would not have been deprived of education in the beginning of the later Vedic period. In the Mahabharata, there is a mention of Sutji who was a sage even though he was a Shudra. BC Manusmriti was composed in the fourth century AD and till the second century AD, amendments and additions were made to this book. It is known from the accounts received in relation to the Acharyakulas running in Taxila during the composition of Manusmriti that along with Kshatriyas, Brahmins and Vaishyas, boys of tailor and fishermen families also received education in Taxila.>

It was forbidden for the Chandalas to study in Taxila. 'Chit Sambhut Jatak' It is written that the Chandalas used to disguise themselves and get their education in Taxila. It is necessary to understand here that the Chandalas were considered lower than the Shudras and were called antyajas (untouchables). The practice of manual scavenging did not start during this period. Therefore, there were only Chandalas in the Antyaj class.

When over time, the basis of the varna system was born, not karma, then education for the Shudras was considered unnecessary and they were denied education. The writers of this period forbade education for the Shudras. He was completely deprived of Vedic studies and Yajan.

'Gautam Dharma Sutra' The author Gautama gave the order that the tongues of Shudras who recited Vedic mantras should be cut off. According to Maharishi Jaimini, no Shudra can perform Agnihotra and Vedic Yagya. 'Economics' The author Kautilya has not written anything about the education of the Shudras. 'Manusmriti' According to Manu, the author of the Shudra was unfit for religious education and fasts.

Education in Post-Gupta India

The Gupta Empire collapsed around AD 570 and the country was plagued by Huns invasions. The Hun fighters were very rude and barbaric. They brutally killed lakhs of Buddhist monks and destroyed and destroyed their monasteries and monasteries by setting fire. Thousands of libraries were also burnt in this fire, which were filled with invaluable texts of ancient Indian education.

Huns also caused great damage to Indian arts by destroying temples, monasteries, stupas, viharas etc. Due to the Huns, many evil practices and superstitions became prevalent in the Indian society. This gave a big blow to education. Yet lakhs of texts of ancient education were saved and Brahmin education continued as before.

The Sanskrit poet Dandi of the sixth century AD included scripts, languages, Vedas, Vedanga, poetry, theatre, theology, grammar, astrology, logic, epistemology, politics, music, verses, rheology, warfare, gamut, chaurya Vidya in the list of subjects. has done. Chinese Buddhist-monk who came to India in the seventh century AD, Hiuen Tsang has mentioned subjects like grammar, crafts, Ayurveda, logic, self-knowledge etc.

The Sanskrit poet Banabhatta of the same period has written that during that period the Brahmin guru regularly taught Vedas, grammar, mimamsa etc. There was continuous recitation of Vedas in Gurukul. Agnihotra rituals used to take place. Vishvadev was sacrificed. The yajna was performed systematically. Brahmin Upadhyaya used to engage in teaching brahmacharis. The scholar Itsing, who came to India in the seventh century, has written that the study of Kasikavritti and the Mahabhashya of Patanjali was completed in four or six years.

Although some scholars have accused the Smritis like Manu, Yajnavalakya and Yama of banning female education, but on the basis of the available facts, it can be said that this allegation is not true. The tradition of women's education continued even from the era of Smriti till much later. Some people of the Charvak tradition have distorted their original form by adding interpolations to the memories.

Co-education is mentioned by Bhavabhuti in the 8th century AD. 'Kamandaki' He acquired education along with Bhurivas and Devarat. Even in the eighth-ninth century, the condition of women's education in India was good. The tradition of educated women sitting at par with men and having debate was alive till the time of Jagadguru Shankaracharya. After Mandan Mishra is defeated, his wife 'Bharti' had debated with Shankar.

Education in the pre-medieval period

The Arabic scholar Alberuni, who visited India at the end of the tenth century and the beginning of the eleventh century, has mentioned various subjects of knowledge and various texts in the then India. He wrote the four Vedas, the eighteen Puranas, the twenty Smritis, the Ramayana, the Mahabharata, the Mahabhashya by Patanjali, the Nyaya language by Kapila, the Mimamsa by Jaimini, the Lokayata by Brihaspati, the Agastya Mata by Agastya, the Katantra by the Sarvavarman, the Shashidev Vritta, the work by Ugrabhuti. The texts of Shishyahitavritti, Pulish's mathematical theory, Varahamihira, Aryabhatta Vidyadhar Gaur's Sarlavritti etc. have been mentioned.

Alberuni writes- 'Hindus extend many other branches of science and literature and their literature is generally infinite. Thus I could not understand his literature to the best of my knowledge.' Therefore, it can be estimated that during this period there was such a spread of education in India and the number of texts had increased so much that it was very difficult for a single person to know and understand all the texts of different subjects.

During this period the education of Shudras in India had attained complete destruction. Alberuni has written that Shudras have no right to read the Vedas. Aparaka indicates that Shudras have neither the right to read the Vedas nor to perform sacrifices.