A Unique Education System- Gurukul

In 1822, when there were no normal schools anywhere, there were about 7,32,000 gurukuls across India, one in every village. At that time the literacy rate of India was 97%.

India has a rich tradition in the field of learning and education since ancient times when people from abroad used to come to India to get quality education.

One of the famous education systems prevalent at that time was the Gurukul system. It was a residential school system that originated around 5000 BCE and was more prevalent during the Vedic era.

The word Gurukul is derived from the Sanskrit words guru (teacher) and kul (family). The Gurukul was actually the home of the teacher or Acharya and the centre of learning where the disciples resided until their education was completed.

Everyone in the Gurukul was treated as equal and the Guru and the disciple lived in the same house or near each other. The main focus was on learning in a natural environment, where the disciples lived with each other in brotherhood, humanity, love and discipline.

Students were taught 18 subjects in all, including mathematics, astronomy, physics, chemistry, medical science, yoga, meditation, war-craft, physical education, economics, political science, administration etc.

They also learned daily chores, self-discipline, humility, humanity and spirituality that helped in personality development, which is essential even today to face the world with wisdom and confidence.

This relationship of guru and shishya was so sacred that no fee was charged from the students. Gurukul was not run by the grant of the king but by the donation of the public and the entire education was free.

However, at the end of one’s education, before leaving the gurukul, a disciple would offer guru dakshina, a traditional gesture of gratitude, respect and thanks to the guru, be it in the form of money or a special task the teacher wanted the student to perform.

But the above concept disappeared and the modern system of education was brought to India in the year 1835 by Lord Macaulay. We all know what are the drawbacks of the new system, however regular reforms are being done at various levels to provide holistic education.

Gurukuls still exist in India, but in a very pathetic condition. Many people consider the Gurukul system to be a very unstructured and strange concept.

However, the modern-day educationists have taken a backward look and feel that there are many teaching approaches from the Gurukul system that can be inculcated in the present-day educational system e.g. focus on practical knowledge, development of a value-based system, and a friendly relationship between teachers and students.

The main idea behind the Gurukul system was to help students understand the concept of a balanced life, which is essential for making informed decisions in every sphere of life.

It is difficult to bring back the old Gurukul system completely now, but the ideas will never become obsolete and will remain relevant for all days to come.

–Kaushal Kishore



  1. A very informative and enjoyable read, KK …it’s a shame so much is lost/overlooked in the name of sweeping progress, the old ways were there for well thought out reasons, … ✨

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Haha, what are you talking about? A school system full of fresh air, respect, beauty, equality, gratitude and affection? No! Very primitive! We can’t have that!

      We now have a much better system, in which the students learn how to go in fear of bullying, gaslighting, and getting shot.

      Liked by 2 people

      1. Yes, Ana, what we think primitive, in reality is better for us. Our education system has been systemically destroyed by Lord Macaulay. There are so many things that have been ruined for a purpose. Thank you for your interesting comment!

        Liked by 1 person

    2. Thank you, Penn, for such a lovely comment that I truly appreciate. While shifting to another system, we always think that we are doing something extraordinary, but it’s not so every time. Thank you so much 🙏💐

      Liked by 1 person

    1. Yes, because in ancient times, women too enjoyed equal freedom in pursuit of knowledge. You must remember Maitreyi, Lilabati and Bharti (Mandan Mishra’s wife). Thank you 🙏

      Liked by 1 person

  2. I just lost the entire comment I wrote about your post-Gurukul.

    Here, is a shortened version:

    Thank you, Kaushal, for writing about

    Gurukul, which is as unique as it is interesting. I read about it during my research into unusual cultural habits in rural India.

    We can learn many things from the past, apart from Gurukul, such as organic farming among others, now regarded as a must.


    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you, Joanna, for rewriting the comment! Much appreciated! Since you have already read about Gurukul, I won’t add anything. As regards organic farming, we Indians used to do nothing but this type of farming, but later we were told to use fertilisers and chemicals, as organic farming was primitive in nature. Now the same people are telling us to go for organic farming. This is the cycle or irony that we have seen during the last 4 to 5 decades. But okay, this happens, as the views and ideas undergo changes depending upon the prevalent situations. Thanks a lot, Joanna, again for your thoughtful comment and support!


  3. Our country was indeed the best in terms of so many things, education being one of those. It’s heartbreaking to see our culture getting ruined.
    Our current education system is just producing people with a certificate and no practical knowledge.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. You’re absolutely right, Anjali, the current system of education is after grades and scores only by hook or by crook. I don’t know how children score 100 in subjects like Hindi and English. Thanks so much for reading and sharing your beautiful reflections!

      Liked by 1 person

    1. You’re right, Mary, the students used to come out of Gurukal as a complete person. Thanks a lot for taking your time to read and comment!


    1. I agree with you, Venky, time has proved it again and again, be it our education, philosophy, culture or agriculture (organic farming). Thank you for sharing your valuable thoughts!

      Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you for your comment, Devang, but it needs a lot of space to reply. I would like to be brief.

      First line of the fifth paragraph of the post has clearly mentioned that everyone was treated as equal, as Gurukul was run by public donation, not by the charity of kings. Both Ram and Krishna had gone to their respective gurus, and even they were not treated more than equal.

      As regards women, they enjoyed equal liberty and freedom in their pursuit of knowledge in ancient India similar to men. They were eligible to both the sacred threading ceremony as well as the Vedic studies. They had their own teachers called Upadhayi and Acharya. Even some of the hymns of the Rigveda were composed by women. We get references of such learned women as Visvavara, Lopamudra, Apala, Urvasi, Ghosa, Sulabha, Lilabati, Maitreyi, Saswati and many more. Who was the judge for debate between Mandan Mishra and Shankaracharya?


  4. Thanks for sharing this KK. In it’s conception it is a pure and important system that had many sound principles. If we could step back and start from the importance of the values and concepts of these sound ideas, the world would be a better place. ❣️

    Liked by 1 person

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