Social education in ancient India
This great vast country had a number of schools of thought and educational institutions following Gurukula style for a very long time . A number of scientific techniques had been perfected and were mostly taught through Teacher-Disciple ( Guru-Shisya ) relationship mostly using oral reinforcement .
One of the standing examples is the use of lac as laminating material for water proofing buildings and to prevent insect pest attack. People were aware of the fact that Lac is an insect secretion and were able to collect fairly large quantities of the same. Lac was also used for filling gold ornaments and for making moulds. Mahabharata describes the inflammable nature of LAC, and was used to build a palace for Pandavas. It was lit to kill them all, but they escaped.
Most of these teachers were jack of all trades teaching different subjects over a long period of time . They gave special education after assessing the interest and skill of students. During the time of active learning the shisyas ( students) lived along with the teacher . Customs were built around learning objectives and were learning oriented.
Education about reproduction and healthy relationship among partners :
Reproduction an instinct through which life forms are sustained on earth is one of the primitive instincts of all organisms. In almost all animals, reproduction is predominantly pheromone driven and is seasonal. In some case in addition to pheromones (sexual instinct attracting chemicals), other agents such as colour (In the case of birds, fish) or light (In the case of fire flies) are also used. But most animals have breeding season. For most animals sex is an instinct and is not primarily used as a pleasure pursuit or a pass time.
In human beings, perhaps, due to evolution, increased intelligence level and also due to the use of perfumes, the pheromone driven sexual instinct has been lost. Seasonal breeding pattern also have been lost, in human beings. Every animal has maternal instinct of protecting and nurturing their siblings. Even this instinct has been lost in human beings as we find many mothers kill their children through abortion and female infanticides or giving away their children to orphanages and for adoption. The problem becomes acute when such practices come form the western countries and many of our youngsters think it to be a fashion.
Educating the public is the primary responsibility of any progressive society and more so for good governance. The civilization in BHARAT always believed in this and has been practicing all forms of education including sex education.
The sex education primarily aimed at educating public that,
(a) Sex should be used for the purpose of building a family with a single partner, whom the men or women have taken through wedlock in the presence of relatives and friends.
This is the reason the bride groom is escorted through a long procession so that most of the watchers would know who the bridegroom to be is.
(b) Life should be built around one man and one woman and they should try to enjoy life as chewing Sugar Cane from the tip to the roots .
Sugar cane tip is salty and gradually becomes sweat as one reaches the root, signifying, that the later part of life in couples should be pleasurable and happy just as Sugar cane is.
(c) Couples used to be put on a bullock cart driven by two bulls. This signifies the two bulls the wife and the husband should have perfect coordination and move in the same direction and with the same speed.
If one bull (either wife or husband) becomes tired and slow the other should also slow down so that the cart movement is not affected. During the movement of the cart There will be ups and downs on the road, making the couples realise that life will be full of ups and down and the couple should adjust and go smoothly.
Their elders in a play way method introduced these life concepts to young couples so that they lead a happy and contented life.
The wedge that protects the wheel from slipping away from the axil signifies the limit to which husband or wife may flirt . The wife must be confident that the husband knows his limits with other woman and vice versa .
An old lady who has seen full life would explain these aspects to the young couple .
Every ritual in marriage ceremonies had a great significance in social education .
The ritual of seeing the stars VASHISHTA and ARUNDATI too has its significance . The star VASHISHTA (MIZAR in the constellation of Ursa Major) and ARUNDATI ( ALCOR in the constellation of Ursa Major) are perhaps the first double stars to be noted by us. Arundati is the wife of Vashishta . In a double star both go around the other .
Vashishta goes around Arundati and like wise Arundati goes around Vashishta.
Perhaps this was highlighted in the ritual to signify that the life of a woman is centred around one man and vice versa
And it takes one full life time for a man to understand a woman and the same perhaps is true with regard to woman too .
These ritualistic methods helped the ancients lead a happy life without much of complications by misunderstandings and diseases.
More over the interaction with elders helped in adopting a healthy way of life. Temples were of the learning centres educating those who seek knowledge. Materials used in the temple as well as their prasadams had significant medicinal values. For example the vilvam leaf given in Siva temple is a cure for many skin ailments and a powerful febrifuge; the Thulasi leaf given in Vishnu temples has a powerful anti fertility action on humans.
The sculptures in temples also had significant importance in educating public. For example, the society discouraged prostitution and illicit or unlawful relationship between men and women.
During the MIDDLE CHOLA PERIOD, around the 8th century, the society ridiculed such relationships.
This can be seen in the photograph below where the woman pulling a man for illicit relationship is described with a donkey’s head. There is also another artwork where the man accosting a woman is depicted as a donkey. The society pulled both men and women who violate social order. This is the situation during the CHOLA PERIOD .The Iravatheeswara Temple at DARASURAM, in Tanjore District of Tamilnadu , depicts the life of people lived at that time .
Thus we see a society that wanted to educate their people for a healthy way of life. With the advancement of knowledge and the influence of western world, our culture, education and healthy, happy, and contented life has been seriously affected.
The advancement of technology and its associated benefits are welcome development through the interaction with the west. But if it happens with the deterioration of our cultural heritage, it is time our youngsters think better and learn to lead a life as their ancestors with the comforts gained through technological developments.
About 10,000 years back, when agricultural practices organised cultivation began in the world, it is estimated that, there were about 10 million human people living in the world. It is more than SIX BILLION PEOPLE today.
If we take our country, according to the census in 1891, the population of undivided India was only 281 million. After that the major FAMINE in 1892, took away nearly 10 million people. The last major famine in Indian sub-continent was the great Bengal FAMINE in 1942-43.
After India became free, the leaders of India took a decision to free India from famine too. Due to better agricultural practices, public distribution system, maintenance of adequate food reserves for any exigencies, and better medical facilities, the human death rate has decrease and birth rate and longevity of people has increased.
Today we are proud that we rank first place in terms of the total number of children added to the population of the world, every year.
There is a sculpture depicting the method of childbirth in standing during Chola period, position as the photograph shows. DOES GRAVITY HELP IN SAFE DELIVERY . PERHAPS THE CHOLA PERIOD PEOPLE BELIEVED SO .
Our youngsters must think, whether the above statistical fact is something we should be proud of or not.
We had large families in the past when agriculture was the major source of income for families. The whole family lived together and worked together. This was necessary because hiring farm labourers was expensive even in those days. When the family is large, the work put in by the family members would reduce the money paid to hired labours. To day with more number of people looking for white-collar jobs, the above logic would not hold good. More over the culture is shifting towards NUCLEAR FAMILIES from the joint families, leaving their wiser and elder members in OLD AGE HOME. This is becoming a very great social issue today giving a very hard blow to our cultural heritage.
CONTRARY TO THE Popular belief and what Science says, a child is born between a man and a woman when the woman is inseminated with the sperm of the man through sexual act or otherwise.
IF THIS TRUE THEN THERE SHOULD BE NO CHILDLESS MOTHER OR THERE WOULD BE NO FERTILITY CLINICS.
It is but true that mere insemination of the woman MAY NOT RESULT IN PREGNANCY and CHILD BIRTH.
THE STORY BIRTH OF ASHTA VASUS IN MAHABHARATA CLEARLY IMPLIES THAT THE WOULD BE CHILD REQUESTS THE MOTHER TO BRING THEM TO EARTH.
OUR YOUNGSTERS ARE NOT THE 100% POPULATION OF OUR COUNTRY. BUT THEY ARE DEFINITELY 100 % FUTURE OF OUR COUNTRY AND ITS RICH AND VARIED CULTURAL HERITAGE.
Article by Mr. R Venkata Ramanan. Chennai based educational consultant. See linkedIn profile.
R Venkata Ramanan
Padmini V Ramanan Educational Resource Centre
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