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The Gurukula System: Outdated Or Futuristic ?

Updated on June 14, 2020
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Avyukth is a college student who has been pursuing stand up comedy for the past 3 years He also loves comedy screenwriting.


The word Gurukula is a combination of the Sanskrit words guru (teacher or master) and kula (family or home). The students were required to leave their homes and live with their teachers during the course of their education. The teacher usually owned agricultural fields. The students undertook activities cattle rearing, farming and its allied activities. They also performed all the miscellaneous chores in and around the school. There was hardly any outside intervention because they lived amidst nature. The school itself was a community and a self sustaining economy. Since the children were living away from their homes, the teacher's wife was revered by all as a mother. Science, mathematics and grammar were taught through discussion and debates. In addition to this, the students were also given opportunities to develop various skills like warfare, pottery, self-defense, carpentry and trading. Let's look at some of the striking characteristics of this system.

Absence of pre-defined structure

In the Gurukula system, students are free to choose what they want to pursue. This was based on their natural inclination and innate abilities. They could also learn at their own pace. This was considered to be one of the drawbacks of this system. People believed that if learning and grading is not standardized it would be impossible to compare two students. But what people didn't realise is that all human beings are unique in their own ways and hence are incomparable. Our obsession with comparing and ranking people has led to a faulty system . Thus, the Gurukula system allows a student to customize his/her own learning experience. It is based on one’s interests and capabilities and is not a rat race.


Finest teachers

The current system places very little importance on the role of teachers. They are forced to stick to a certain syllabus and are often underpaid.

But in the Gurukula system, the teachers were people with tremendous intellectual prowess. They taught subjects which they found most relevant. They followed methods that they devised, to best suit their students. When they visited the palace, even the most powerful king would offer his throne to his teacher as a mark of respect.. So the responsibility of creating the next generation was vested in the hands of individuals with remarkable ability and character. Thanks to this, every generation was exponentially better than the previous. This was the reason the Indian civilization was way ahead of the rest of the world.

Sense of responsibility

Every student has his/her share of daily duties and responsibilities. Living away from their parents, the students are not pampered and learn to fend for themselves. A nominal fee is paid while admitting the child into the school. Nevertheless, students perform various tasks everyday in exchange for the food, shelter and education that they receive. This teaches them that nothing is free in this world. It also instills a sense of commitment and responsibility at a very young age.

Residential schooling

Here, the interaction between students and teachers is not limited to the confines of the classroom. Students consciously and subconsciously pick up the qualities of the teacher through observation. Hence, it is of extreme importance that the teacher conducts himself in an exemplary manner. The students also develop a sense of harmonious community living. They grow up to become citizens who always have the best interests of everyone as their first priority.


Holistic development

The students learn subjects like science, mathematics and grammar that fosters intellectual development. They are taught self-defense and warfare and this helps in their physical well-being. Their exposure to art challenges their creative capabilities. They develop a sense of responsibility and community living which encourages emotional well-being. They learn ethics, manners and codes of conduct by observing their teachers. This turns them into responsible adults with a strong character. So the education is not restricted to enabling them to have a successful professional career. It teaches them how to lead a successful and fulfilling life.


The failure of the modern education system is a reality check. We must consider going back to our roots. We live in a world where education completion certificates are given extreme importance. There is hardly any thought given to the overall development of an individual and real learning. It might not be possible to completely desert the current system and adopt the gurukula system on a large scale. But we should start taking small steps and start adopting some of the core principles.. I believe that this is something that we owe our future generations.

Do you think the Gurukula system should replace the current system?

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© 2020 Avyukth Krishna


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