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How teaching can regain its lost glory of ancient times of the guru-shishya parampara

Updated: Sep 20, 2023


ॐ सह नाववतु। सह नौ भुनक्तु। सह वीर्यं करवावहै।तेजस्विनावधीतमस्तु मा विद्विषावहै॥ ॐ शांति, शांति, शांतिः - तैत्तिरीय उपनिषद
A guru prays with his disciple:
Let him protect us both.
Let us both be nourished together.
Let us both be valorous together.
Let us shine with bliss and wisdom!
Let us not have a tinge of hate between each other.
Let there be peace.

A guru with his shishya, sitting in greens, reciting this verse with deeply peaceful minds

makes us yearn for a Gurukula atmosphere. There is something about the Gurukula

setting that has attracted centuries of humankind, to learn, to teach, and to live, in the

parampara.

The guru-shishya parampara was piously revered. It was the only way to learn a

discipline or a vidya. May it be music or art, may it be math or architecture, may it be sculpting or archery, the guru shishya parampara was the only stream running under the ancient heritage, to make humans out of students.

As the shloka says, "Vande Guruparamparam!"

Salutations to the long lineage of impacting Gurus, who have led us to today. It is only due to the blessings of a Guru, can a child grow into a wise house of knowledge. Teaching has taken various forms, shapes, and shades, over centuries of revolutions. Continuous foreign attacks, Westernization, and blind belief in outsiders have led to an industrial view of the teaching process. It is assumed that teaching is supposed to mean ' to train' the students.

To train is to make machines. Evidently, teaching meant a lot more in ancient times.

The whole process was a whole lot different, wide and vast, from life till beyond. Gurus lived in gurukulas with their shishyas, who were serving their Gurus, lived with them, at their divine feet, with nothing but devoted conscience, every day, till they were ready to step out into the world. The atmosphere of a Gurukula is a dream come true. They were located in luscious

forests, deep in the woods, where the pleasant air of peace flew in and out of the Gurukula.

The chatras (students) joined the Gurukula, served their Gurus, learnt from the Guru,

took care of their Gurumaata, and led a life dedicated only to learning. Not to just pass!

Not to just 'go through'. Just to learn.

Every discipline had its own flavor of guru shishya parampara. Indian classical music is a whole different setting of a Gurukula, where a student sincerely does the Ganda Pooja and promises to learn from the Guru with utmost care and benevolence.

Honoring My Guiding Lights: A Tribute to My Beloved Teachers
My first and foremost favorite teachers are my parents, who are educators by profession and have guided and nurtured me both in academics and life. They top my list of influential mentors. Smt. Anantalakshmi Natarajan, a revered guru, holds a special place for shaping my life's trajectory. Sri Nagaraj is another cherished mentor whose kind teaching and nurturing have been instrumental in my growth. I am indebted to a multitude of teachers who have played significant roles in my journey, and I extend my heartfelt salute to all on this Teacher's Day. My gratitude knows no bounds for the invaluable impact they've had on me.

Martial arts were taught day in and day out, for a continuous engagement in earning a

skill. Vedas we're imparted orally through hundreds and thousands of batches of shishyas ,

through Gurus. Upanishads, epics, literature, and art were all made to flow from the Lotus feet of a guru to the blooming mind of a student. That's how glorious a Gurukula system was! To regain its lost glory, teaching must definitely reinvent itself through the lens of the Guru shishya parampara. Today's system is focused on all the wrong reasons for a child to grow up. To make money was far from the high ideals of an ancient Indian. To score marks was the lesser priority of a Gurukula student. To sell education was the last thing a Guru would do. If we kept a mirror to today's teaching, we can see how everything has come so far from our own rich heritage of Gurukula happenings. It's possible to regain the glory, only if the scientific treatment of a Gurukula is accepted all over the country. The notion that anything ancient is to be scrutinized under a scientific lens is a keen agenda played on innocent Indians. The call for bringing back Gurukula system has not been out of these claws of pseudo-nationalistic interests.

To imbibe Gurukula ideals back again, it is necessary to build a healthy society, which is

fit enough to hold a high regard for a Guru- Shishya Parampara. Society must understand its own heritage and must be aware of why it is so important to bring back the old gold treasures. Ways suit the aims. The British ways suit job-making machines. The Guru-shishya ways suit ideals, high like the Himalayas. India has lived, died, fought, dreamt, worked, and sustained for her ideals. Dharma, Shanti, Satya, Vishvabandhutva, Harmony, etc. have been the heartbeats of India for times unknown. To reach out to them back, with the seedlings of the country, in the frame of teaching, the following ideas can be used:-

  • Teachers must slowly imbibe the essence of Guru-shishya parampara, by telling about its beauty and majesty.

  • Teaching can be a joyful experience when a Guru is deeply connected to a Shishya.

  • Teachers must have agendas to make the student a shishya, not just a money maker.

  • Teaching can refocus its intentions and slowly change its course to the Ganges of knowledge.

  • Teachers must be idealistic for the students to follow them.

  • Teachers must encourage the students to learn more about the Guru shishya parampara, so that they get hooked on the wonderful ideas of that parampara.

  • Teachers can show demos of how a Gurukula works: through exhibitions, models, storytelling, dramas, ancient text reading sessions, etc.

  • Teachers can impact the students' life by widening their vision, wide enough to see their own ancestry.

  • The parampara is built slowly and patiently. To attain that, constant efforts are needed.

  • For a parampara to continue, the society must join hands with teachers to regain the picture of Guru shishya parampara, and to paint it into the present.

About this article 
The article, "How teaching can regain its lost glory of ancient times of the guru-shishya parampara," authored by Vedashree B N, has been recognized with 'Honourary Mentions' in 'The Nation Builders 2023,' a prestigious national-level article writing competition held in celebration of National Teacher's Day. In this enlightening piece, Vedashree explores the timeless wisdom and values inherent in the ancient guru-shishya tradition, offering valuable insights into how contemporary education can draw inspiration from this age-old legacy to restore its former greatness.


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