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Buddhist Education 2007 UK

Give an outline of Brahmanical system of education in India


During the time of Brahmanical system, education was mainly based on Brahmanical scriptures
like, Veda, Varnadharma, Asramadharma and Svadharma. There are four Vedas given by the creator
namely; Rig, Yajur, Saman and Atharvan.
Pali texts refer to several famous teachers who ran educational centres to teach rich students who
came to them for studies. These teachers were Brahmanas, for education was the monopoly of
Brahmins. The belief was that it was their Sva-dharma-specific class-duty. They were expected to
learn the Vedas, teach the Vedas, perform religious rituals, advice and guide the ruling class.
Thus in the Purusa sutra, four sections of human society appeared that Brahmin emerged from
the mouth of the Brahma, from the arms: Ksatriya, from the thigh: Vaisya and lastly from the feet:
the Sudra. As a result, Varnadharma became one of the fields of teachings in Brahmanism.
In the Laws of Manu, there is the list of duty that each class has to follow. Br hma a: it means
priest. (1) teaching; (2) learning; (3) offering sacrifice; (4) conducting sacrifice; (5) charity; (6)
receiving gift. K atriya (ruler): (1) protection of the people (country); (2) charity; (3) offering
sacrifice; (4) learning; (5) sense-control. Vai ya (merchant): (1) protection of animals; (2) charity;
(3) offering sacrifice; (4) learning; (5) trade; (6) lending money; (7) agriculture. The duties of Sudra
has only to serve others.
The whole Vedic education depended on oral transmission from teacher to pupil. This Vedic
education was highly restricted and only a selected youth of Brahamana caste were admitted for
studentship. Members of Ksatriya and Vaisya, though had educational opportunities, were not given
Vedic education. It was the monopoly of the Brahmins. Besides learning the Vedas, same Brahmins
learnt the intricate art of performing rites and rituals, and even large scale sacrifices. There were
Brahmana teachers well known for imparting this kind of religious education, which was open only
to the Brahmana caste. These curricular were quite wide for they had to train and prepare the
Ksatriya for ruling and administration of the country and so on.
It appears that there were no equal opportunities of education in the Brahmanical system of
education. Caste was one barrier that limited education. It is seen that Brahmins were only teachers
for the upper society. They learned whatever they could and preserved it and handed it on deserving
students. It was education for three upper castes. The workers were not expected to know the
religious texts. Thus Mano says if a Sudra were to hear to Vedic statement metal must be put into his
ear. If a worker were to utter a Vedic statement his tongue must be cut.
Sex was another bar to education, for women were not given the opportunity of formally
learning. They were treated under the Brahmana and were equal to the workers. And they were only
expected to serve her husband.
Moreover, Varnasrama-dharma is another essential feature of Brahmanism. According to them
the life-span was divided into four stages Brahmacari, Grahastha, Vanaprastha and Sannyasin. The
first stage is that of the student (Brahmacarin). A child at the age of eight years has to commence
the study of the Veda under a teacher and during this period of study he had to observe strict
celibacy.
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