Book Review: The Educational Heritage of Ancient India

The Educational Heritage of Ancient India: How an Ecosystem of Learning Was Laid to WasteThe Educational Heritage of Ancient India: How an Ecosystem of Learning Was Laid to Waste by Sahana Singh

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

A amazing, succinct book which takes a look at the system of education in India during the ancient times, during Mughal rule, during British rule and since independence.

* Ancient times
In great detail the book describes the rich Indic education system. It describes the times when education was highly valued, people travelled long distances (sometimes across continents) to learn, where there was a complete ecosystem which supported education and people pursuing it, where both men and women had equal opportunities to learn and where the scholars were experts in their areas of excellence and were far ahead of their times!

* During Mughal rule
This educational ecosystem was intentionally destroyed by the Mughal rulers who invaded India. They destroyed these institutions, burnt libraries and killed the scholars all across India. They were responsible to flung back India centuries behind in its knowledge and scientific pursuits.

* During British rule
The British rule further ruined even the remnants of Indic education system. Their strategy was to create a population which is unaware / hates its own heritage. And to impart an ‘English’ education to them in order to create a population which can be ordered to work but which cannot think for itself.

* After Independence
Sadly, the details of the murder of education system and the rich ancient culture in general by the previous rulers has not been presented correctly to the citizens even after independence. Sometimes the very people who caused this massive destruction have be glorified in the books. It’s high time that we the people, are aware of the rich educational / cultural systems of ancient times and how they were destroyed by the rulers in the past.

Educational systems are the foundation of any society. Educational institutes from schools to universities impart not just knowledge of different areas but also builds minds which can solve unknown challenges of the upcoming times! Thus if the educational system is broken, then the population itself is not capable enough to face the future, which in turn leads to an unstable, sub-par society.

Also, I don’t think we need to go back and copy the exact models of ancient educational systems. Some of the key aspects of the ancient education system can be adapted to the current times to build better educational systems today. The key take-away from this book is that we should be aware of our rich educational heritage as well as how it was brutally destroyed by Mughal / British rulers. Sometimes just accepting the past in itself is a big step towards progress. Finally, we need to rethink and redesign the current day educational systems so that it is good enough to create a society that can tackle the problems of tomorrow!

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