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by Buddhadev Bhattacharya


by Buddhadev Bhattacharya*


The Buddhist Education aims are individual because great care is taken in the character formation and personality development. Physical, moral, and intellectual aspects are looked after. The Buddhist education system is democratic but is global appeal. Approach of Buddhist education is individual as well as social, academic as well as vocational, and empirical and spiritual both. Along with aim of Nirvāa, it also prepares pupils for worldly life through vocational education. The approach of Buddhist Educational System is very much comprehensive.

The ancient Buddhist education aims ware vocational because curriculum included agriculture, dairy farming, art, craft, handwork, commerce, military training, spinning and weaving for worthwhile living. Students were social as the educational system during this time was a good deal of interaction and students were taught collectively. This leads to be a great system to the society. It is well-known that with the rise of Buddhism in India there dawned the golden age of India’s culture and civilization. There was progress in all aspects of India civilization under the impact of Buddhism.
Buddhist philosophy of education is based on a Buddhist socio-

*. Dr., Sr. Assistant Professor, Dept. of Philosophy, Nava Nalanda Mahavihara, Ministry of Cul- ture, Govt. of India, Nalanda-803111, Bihar, India.

ethical philosophy. No society will manage education without associating it with beliefs in regard to justice, freedom and equality. Each and every act of us in the society has a universal dimension. Because of this, ethical discipline, wholesome conduct, and careful discernment are crucial ingredients for a meaningful, happy life. Human beings are fundamentally interconnected at the deepest level, and throughout the realm of experience. Universal responsibility could easily be said to be synonymous with compassion - the core value which underlies all Buddhist ethical teaching.

It is well-known that with the rise of Buddhism in India there dawned the golden age of Indias culture and civilization. There was progress in all aspects of Indian civilization under the impact of Buddhism.

Ideally, education is the principal tool of human growth, essential for transforming the unlettered child into a mature and responsible adult. Yet everywhere today, both in the developed world and the developing world, we can see that formal education is in serious trouble. Even the brightest and most conscientious students easily become restless, and for many the only attractive escape routes lie along the dangerous roads of drugs, sexual experimentation, and outbursts of senseless violence.1

The word education” literally means “to bring forth,which indicates that the true task of this process is to draw forth from the mind its innate potential for understanding. The urge to learn, to
  1. The monasteries were the centers of education during the Buddhist period. Be- sides monasteries, there were no other organizations for imparting education. Only the Buddhist could receive religious and other types of education. Other persons were deprived of this facility. There was no place for Yajna in the Buddhist system. Buddhist period in Indian education roughly starts from 600 B.C and last for about 1200 years till 600A.D. during Vedic period education was mostly individualistic effort whereas during Buddhist period institutional organization is one of the chief characteristics of education.
The Buddhist education was based on the teaching of Gautama the Buddha. These teachings were so important that they remained a source of inspiration for individual as well as social development in India. The influence of Buddhist teachings cannot be undermined even during later period.

know and comprehend is a basic human trait, as intrinsic to our minds as hunger and thirst are to our bodies.

A major cause of our educational problems lies in the commercialization’ of education.  The  industrial  growth  model of society, which today extends its tentacles even into the largely agrarian societies of South and Southeast Asia, demands that the educational system prepare students to become productive citizens in an economic order governed by the drive to maximize profits. Such a conception of the aim of education is quite different from that consistent with Buddhist principles. Practical efficiency certainly has its place in Buddhist education, for Buddhism propounds a middle path which recognizes that our loftiest spiritual aspirations depend on a healthy body and a materially secure society. But for Buddhism the practical side of education must be integrated; with other requirements designed to bring the potentialities of human nature to maturity in the way envisioned by the Buddha. Above all, an educational policy guided by Buddhist principles must aim to instill values as much as to impart information. It must be directed, not merely toward developing social and commercial skills, but toward nurturing in the students the seeds of spiritual nobility.2

Thus Buddhist education aims at a parallel transformation of human character and intelligence, holding both in balance and ensuring that both are brought to fulfillment.

Wisdom arises by systematically working the ideas and principles learned through study into the fabric of the mind, which requires deep reflection, intelligent discussion, and keen investigation.

It is wisdom that the Buddha held up as the direct instrument of final liberation, as the key for opening the doors to the Deathless,

  1. The nature of mass education
The monasteries or the Buddha Viharas were the chief centres of learning and only the Buddhist monks could be admitted to them for education. Thus there was no planned arrangement for mass education as such during the period. It forms this position it would be wrong to construct that the Buddhist monks were unmindful of the education of the people in general. So at the time of begging alms the monks used to remove the religious doubts of the people through their interesting conversation or short and alp lectures. Thus the people in general received moral and religious educa- tion from the monks.

and also as the infallible guide to success in meeting lifes mundane challenges. Thus wisdom is the crown and pinnacle of the entire system of Buddhist education, and all the preliminary steps in a Buddhist educational system should be geared toward the flowering of this supreme virtue. It is with this step that education reaches completion, that it becomes illumination in the truest and deepest sense, as exclaimed by the Buddha on the night of his Awakening: There arose in me vision, knowledge, wisdom, understanding, and light.


It is evident that during that period, the aims of education were similar to those of Vedic age. Instead of emphasizing spiritual elevation, the stress was laid on the development of personality which included physical, moral, mental and intellectual development; formation of moral character, which included among other things, right conduct, integrity, morality, piety, humility and good virtues.3

Besides, religious education was given top priority and efforts were made to achieve Salvation or Nirvana through religious education. There was also provision for imparting worldly and practical knowledge along with religious education.

The aims were individual because great care was taken in the formation of character and development of personality. Physical, moral, and intellectual aspects were looked after. Celibacy, simple food, purification of the mind, sympathy and pity were stressed.
  1. Aims of education
The chief aims of Buddhist education had been the following:
(1) Development of education: The chief aim of Buddhist education was all round development of childs personality. This included his physical, mental, moral and intellectual development. (2) Formation of character: During this period, in the organization of education, special emphasis was laid on the formation of character of the students. Student life was hard and rigorous. They observed celibacy. (3) Religious education: In the Buddhist era, religion was given top priority and education was imparted through it. The chief aim of education was propagation of religion and inculcation of religious feelings and education served as a mean to achieve salvation or nirvana. (4) Preparation for life: In this system of education, there was a provision for imparting wordily and practical knowledge along with religious education so that when the students entered normal life they may be able to earn their livelihood.

The aims were comprehensive. Aims were heavenly in that Buddhist education was thoroughly in formed by the Buddhist culture and ethos. Aims were vocational because curriculum included agriculture, dairy farming, art, craft, handwork, commerce, military training, spinning and weaving for worthwhile living. Students were social as the educational system during this time was a good deal of interaction and students were taught collectively. This leads to be a great system to the society. 4

The metaphysics of Buddhist, philosophy of education was the primacy of mind in all mens thought and action: path to self- realization lay through purity of mind. The epistemology was to apply the standards of reason and logic to all philosophies, ideas and practices. The aims of the Buddhist educational system were comprehensive. The student was then called ‘Shraman. Education was imported in Vihars and Mahavihara or Monasteries. Monasteries were the main centres of learning. Students approached the teachers and requested them for being educated. The teacher accepted him as his student and he was not accountable to any other teacher (Bhikshus). At the age of eight, the students started with first ordination ceremony called Pabhja which meant going out. Pabbaja was an accepted ceremony of the Buddhist monasteries. Pabbaja means going out. According to this ceremony the students after being admitted to a monastery had to renounce all his worldly and family relationship. An individual belonging to any caste could be admitted to a monastery and after being admitted he did not belong to any caste. For Pabbaja ceremony the individual had to get his head fully shaved and put on yellow clothes. In this shape he was presented before the presiding Bhikshu. On presentation this individual would pray for admission to the monastery.
On his prayer the head Bikshu would administer three basic advices:
  1. Women education
Women education during the Buddhist period was at its lowest ebb, as the women folk were despised in the sense that Gautama the Buddha had regarded them as the source of all evils. So he had advised during his regarded them as the source of all evils. So he had advised during his life time not to admit women in monasteries. But after some time due to the insistence of his dear pupil Anand, Buddha had permitted about 500 women along with his stepmother for admission in vihars with many restriction and reservation.
    1. I take refuse with Buddha.
    2. I take refuge with religion.
    3. I take refuge with the order.

The aspirant for admission used to pronounce these advices very distinctly. Then his admission was permitted. On being admitted the individual was called a Sharman.

The student renounced his family and worldly relationship. He didn’t belong to any caste after being admitted to a monastery. He got his shaved fully and put on yellow clothes. The ceremony continued for twelve years, after his education twelve years, the student at twenty underwent the upasampada ceremony. After pabbaja the Buddhist monk had to undergo the Upasampada ceremony. This ceremony was different from pabbaja ceremony. It was after receiving education for twelve years, that it is at the age of twenty years, Upasampada ceremony was performed. The Sharman has to present himself in front before all other monks of the monastery. One could be admitted for this ceremony only when the majority of the monks voted in favour of the same. After this ceremony the Sharman was regarded as full- fledge member of the monastery. On this occasion all his worldly and family relationships ended.

The sharamam was presented before all other monks of the monastery. He was entitled to the full membership of the monastery and remained a monk for good. The availability of universities demonstrated the democratic feelings of those times. Vihars education centres were emerged wherever Buddhist monasteries or vihars were established. Higher centres of learning, equivalent to universities, developed at Ballabhi, Jagdala, Nadia, Nalanda,5

  1. Nalanda
Nalanda represents an era that saw India leading in imparting knowledge, to the world – the era when India was a coveted place for studies. The University flourished during the 5th and 12th century. Some historical studies suggest that the University of Nalanda was established during the reign of a king called Śakrāditya, of the Gupta Dynasty. Both Xuanzang and Prajñavarman cite him as the founder, as does a seal discovered at the site.
Founded in the 5th Century A.D., Nalanda is known as the ancient seat of learning. 2,000 Teachers and 10,000 Students from all over the Buddhist world lived and studied at Nalanda, the first Residential International University of the World.

Odantpuri, Vikramshila and Taxila. Nalanda University was the most famous. There were chancellors for running administrative and academic work. Bhikshus, the eminent Bhikshus were the in- charges of the Buddhist universities. In-charge Bhikshus was known for his age, learning and character. The universities were housed in huge buildings. Students from Java, Tibet, Korea and China came to study in these universities. India of even those times had international reputation. The pupils were expected non-violence, no temptation, no impurity of character, no lies, to be teetotaler, not be a glutton, not to speak ill of anybody, be generous, not to be luxurious, free from greed and not to take interest in music, dance, play, show etc. The student obeyed none else but his teacher. Disciples were under the firm control of their teacher students served their teacher, arranging water, arranging food, cleaning the utensils going out for alms with him. The monks and students followed the principle of simple living and high thinking.’ Earlier women were not allowed to join the monasteries but later on they were allowed with many restrictions for women education, Buddhism wasn’t favourable. In all, Buddhist education was democratic and had international appeal. The Buddhist philosophy is based on four noble truths-all existences involves suffering; suffering is caused by desire, suppression of desire leads to its extinction and deliverance. Buddhist educational system aims individual and social, academic and vocational and earthly and heavenly progress. Teachers were monks who were well read, of high moral character and kind and fair. But later on, Buddhist education degenerated because of arbitrariness and corruption.

  1. Buddhist education was a monastic system of education. The monasteries and Viharas were Bhikshus were residing developed into educational institutions.
  1. The Buddhist system there was a common organisation. It was a well federated system of education. Even though each institution was independent, yet it had to obey the orders of the Sanghor the common organisation.
  2. The Buddhist education system was democratic in character.

It was not one man who ruled. Right from the time of admission up to the final stage when students left the Viharas everything was organised on democratic lines. This system accomplished the right to vote by the student in the deliberations of the ‘Samghaafter his admission to it.
  1. Renunciation of family life on the other hand was the very basis of the Buddhist system. Once the pupils left their homes and joined the Viharas for receiving education, except certain exceptional circumstances they were generally not allowed to go back to their homes even after the completion of their studies. Having finished their education, they were required to go about and preach Buddhism. Thus under Buddhist system of education, an order of brotherhood was established by breaking tender and natural ties of family relations.


Buddhist Education probably varied very much in different countries and at different times. We get a valuable picture of Buddhist education as it existed in India from the records left by certain Chinese Buddhist scholars, who visited India in the fifth and seventh centuries of this era.

They had undertaken long, toilsome and dangerous journeys, only because the fame of the Buddhist monasteries in India as places of learning had crossed the territorial jurisdiction of India. Fa-hien, who was in India between A.D. 339 and A.D. 414, makes frequent references to monasteries as seats of learning. Huen Tsiang who came to India during A.D. 629 to A.D 645 referred to the popularity of Buddhism which was in a flourishing state. I-Tsing another Chinese scholar who came to India and was in the country from A.D. 673 to 687 also highlighted some of the brighter aspects of the prevalent system of education.

The main educational centers of Buddhism were Monasteries and Viharas. A network of such centers of education was started during the period. The entire educational system was controlled and supervised by the monks. There was provision for both religions as well as secular types of education. Therefore, emphasis was laid on personal conduct rather than external rites and ceremonies as in the

Brahmanic system. Thus the aim of education was to prepare for a good life, a moral life.

The whole discipline (Siksha) had three important aspects viz, morality, contemplation and wisdom. In the Buddhist morality, there was infusion of practical needs with theoretical knowledge and stress on ascetic life against worldly life. With the advent of Buddhismthedemandforeducationamongthepeopleconsiderably increased. The relaxation of barriers of caste in the sphere of religion and learning helped for the expansion of education.

But it was confined to the upper classes of the society and did not make any headway among masses. As Buddhism became popular and attracted people, the demand for education considerably increased. Be it as it may, Buddhism broke the monopoly of any particular section of the society pertaining to teaching and learning.


The curriculum was chiefly spiritual in nature. It was because the chief aim of education was to attain salvation. So the study of the religious books was most important. This type of curriculum was meant only for the monks. Besides these spinning, weaving, printing of the clothes, tailoring, sketching, accountancy, medicines, surgery and coinage were the other subjects of Buddhist education.6

Since the chief-ideal of Buddhist education was the attainment of Nirvana or Salvation, education was thoroughly  saturated with religion and it was spiritual in essence. Though the study of religion pre-dominated the entire society yet one should not infer the conclusion that there was no provision for practical and technical education. In this period India had marked a high water

  1. Assembly of learned people
On the beginning and close of every month learned people used to assemble together. This type of assembly together was a very important part of Buddhist education. The purpose of this assembly was to maintain the moral standards of all the monks, because the total education was based on morality. It was compulsory for all the monks to be present in this assemble so much so that even ill monks used to try to attend it anyhow. If due to illness it was not possible for monk to come, then assembly was held near his residence. This assembly was quite democratic and it has immense moral impact on all concerned.

level of development in Literature, Philosophy, Arts, Commerce, Agriculture and the Methods of warfare.7

The main subjects of Buddhist education were Spinning, Weaving, Printing of the cloth, Tailoring, Accountancy, Painting, Ayurveda, Surgery etc. The Primary grade education aimed at teaching reading, writing, and arithmetic. But the higher education comprisedwithteachinginReligion,Philosophy,Medicine,Military Science, etc. for choosing different subjects. Caste distinction was not a bar.

Besides these subjects, different arts and crafts also formed an essential part of the curriculum. The following arts were taught ill different institutions-Elephant lores, Magic charms, Spells, Hunting, Spell for understanding the cries of all the creatures. Archery, the arts of Prognostication, SarpaVidya, and Medicine etc. students could specialize in any of these arts. Taxila was the center of education in these Arts and Sciences. Both theoretical as well as practical aspects of education were equally emphasized.

It is evident from the written account of Chinese traveler, Fa- Hien, that the Brahmanical system of education was also popular in the fifth century A.D. The knowledge of Sanskrit was indispensable for higher education. So Fa-Hien had to remain at Pataliputra for three years for acquiring adequate knowledge in Sanskrit. As all the important Buddhist works have been written in Pali, the Pali and other regional languages were also popular during the period. However, there was a harmonious combination of both seculars and spiritual aspects of education.

Hiuen-Tsang, another Chinese traveler has quoted the example of Nalanda, pertaining to higher education, where Buddhist Philosophy, the literature, the Yoga and other spiritual sciences were taught. The institution at Vikramashila earned name and fame
  1. Vocation Education
Vocation education was not ignored during the budhist system of education. The monks of Vihar were taught spinning, weaving and sewing in order that they meet their clothing requirement. They were taught architecture as well. Education in architecture enabled them to build up new Vihars or repair the old ones. Similarly the householders following Buddhism but living outside Vihar were given training in different type of and also earn their livelihood.

for imparting teaching in Logic (Tarka Shastra) and Jurisprudence (Nyaya Shastra).

As mentioned earlier, the Buddhist system had not ignored occupational and technical aspects of education. The monks in the monasteries were at liberty to acquire proficiency in various arts and craft. Jivaka, a great physician and surgeon of that age, acquired considerable knowledge and skill in the operation of brain and intestines. Similarly Charak, rightly known as the Father of Ayurveda, was a product of this age. The center of medical science was Taxila, which attracted students from far and near.

Besides Ayurveda, the masses were trained in many useful crafts, arts architecture and in such occupations as agriculture, commerce, cottage industry, animal husbandry etc. in the same way as the people of the Vedic period received facilities of training in these occupations.


Buddhist education aimed at purity of character. Like Vedic education it was training for moral character rather than psychological development of the students. One has to attain the stage of Bodhisattva. Mental and moral development was emphasized. Following were the methods:
  1. Verbal education: Through the art of writing had been well developed up to Buddhist period yet, due to shortage and no availability of writing materials, verbal education was prevalent as it was in Vedic age. The teacher used to give lessons to the novices who learnt them by heart. The teacher used to put questions on the learning the lesson by heart.
  1. Discussion: In order to win discussion or Shastrartha and impress the general public, it was necessary to improve the power of discussion. This was also needed to satisfy the critics and opposing groups and establish ones own cult. Thus, rules were framed for discussion.
  1. Prominence of logic: The importance of discussion encouraged the logic in the Buddhist period. The controversial matters could not be decided without logical argument. Logic was also useful in the development of the mental power and knowledge.
  1. Tours: The main of the Buddhist monks was to propagate Buddhism.Hence some Acharyas like Sariputta, Mahayaggalva, Aniruddha, Rahula, etc gave the importance to tours for educating people.
  1. Conference: Conferences were arranged on every full moon and 1st day of month in the Buddhist Sanghs. The monks of different Sanghs assembled and put forward their doubts freely. The attendance of every monk was compulsory in such conference.
  1. Meditation in solitude: Some Buddhist monks were more interested in isolated spiritual meditation in lonely forests and caves. Only those monks were considered fit for lonely meditation that had fully renounced the worldly attraction and had spent enough time in the Sanghs and had gained the efficiency for solitary medications.

During the period the art of writing had considerably developed, but it had not reached the masses as regards its practical use. Therefore, the method of instruction was mainly oral as it was during the Vedic age. The pupils used to learn the content of different subject matter by rote. As the both preceptors and the pupils were residing in the monasteries, the preceptor had recourse to direct method in teaching.

A preceptor used to suggest a lesson to the pupils and the pupil was learning the lesson by heart. After ascertaining the pupil s comprehension of a particular lesson the preceptor proceeded with further lesson. Thinking, meditation and self-study were duly emphasized.

In Viharas and monastic schools Hetu-Vidya or inductive method of logic was adopted and through this method the intellect of the pupils was trained. Discussions, talks and argumentations were also organized periodically on different religious and philosophical subjects. In order to train the pupils in the art of debating from the very beginning of their academic career, there was provision for occasional discussion among the followers of different religions.

For the intellectual benefit of the pupils sometimes outstanding celebrities and authorities on religion and philosophy were invited to deliver talks on different topics. Besides, stimulating environment

was provided for widening the mental horizon of the pupils and for developing clarity of vision for solving intricate problems of life. In order to give a realistic and practical shape to what the pupils had learnt at the monastic schools, the pupils used to undertake the journey from one place to another at the end of their academic career.

In addition to this, Buddhist Period debates and periodical gatherings were organized. Monks from different monasteries were participating in the discussions and delivering speeches on philosophical and religious topics. Pupils were also encouraged to participate in these meetings for increasing their knowledge appreciably.

In regard to technical education in secular science, arts and crafts, the teaching method was identical with that of Brahmanical education. Pupils were given education through both theoretical and practical methods. After completion of the theoretical study the pupils were serving a term of apprenticeship under some expert artisans for picking up practical knowledge and skill in arts and crafts.


Both the teacher and the student were responsible to the monastery or the Buddhist order. But regarding education, clothes, food and residence of the student monk, the teacher was wholly responsible. The teacher was also responsible for any treatment of the student whenever he fell ill. The teacher used to bestow all the affection to his student and used to educate his through lecture and question answer method.


Buddhist philosophy admits the possible of attaining peace here and now, though, it starts with a pessimistic note. Teacher, therefore, need not have any cry of despair. Bhikshus were the teacher. Buddhist Viharas or monasteries have their methods of imitation and training for the apprentices. The preceptor must give his disciple, all possible intellectual and spiritual help and guidance. There was mutual esteem between the teacher and the pupil. There relations were like father and son. The teacher was regarded as spiritual father or intellectual father of the student.

During Buddhist period the place of teacher in the scheme of education was very important. There were the categories of teachers – Acharyas and Upadhayas. According to Sutras Literature Acharya may admit according to his unfettered discretion, a number of pupils, who would have to live with him at this house, for a minimum period of twelve years. He would not accept any fees from the pupils under this instruction. The progress shown by pupil was the only factor that determined the continence of his apprenticeship.


The student was expected to serve his teacher with all devotion. On rising in the morning the student will arrange everything for the daily routine of the teacher. He will cook his food and clean his clothes and utensils. Whatever he acquired through begging alms, he would place before teacher. The student had to prepare himself to receive education at any time whenever the teacher required him.


The Budhist system like the Brahmanical, enjoins upon the pupil the duty of serving this preceptor as a part of education. The pupils is to rise early in morning from the bed and give his teacher teeth-cleanser and water to rinse his mouth with; then, preparing a seat for him, serve him rice- milk in rinse his mouth with; then, preparing as seat for him, serve him rice milk in rinsed jug, and after his drinking it, wash the vessel and sweep the place. Afterwards he is to equip him for his begging round by giving him fresh undergarments, girdle, his two upper garments, and his alms- bowl rinsed and filled with water and then is to dress and equip himself similarly if he wants to accompany his teacher but must not walk too far from or near wants to accompany his teacher but must not walk too far from or near wants to accompany his teacher but must not walk too far from or near him. He is not to interrupt his teacher in speaking, even if he makes a mistake. There were also rules for the expulsion of a pupil by his teacher. In five cases a Saddhiviharika ought to be turned away; when he does not feel great affection for his Upajjhaya, nor great inclination towards him, nor much shame, nor great reverence, nor great devotion.

The present education experiment like basic education, Vishwa Bharti, Aurobindo Ashram, Gurukul Kangri and Banasthali Vidyapeeth,etc., are the glaring examples of our ancient system of education in this country. In the words of S. K. Mukerjee, They were started with the object of reviving the ancient institution of Brahamacharya,ofrevitalizingancientIndianphilosophyandliterature and of producing good citizens and preachers of Vedic religion.While delivering his address in the Dada Bhai Naurozi lectures series L.S. Mudaliar, a renowned Indian educationist had said Let our young Indian realize the heritage that is there. May the young generation imbibe the true spirit of India and follow it in all their endeavors.

The pupil and  preceptor  relation  in  the  Buddhist  system of education was the same as during the Vedic period. In this monastic system of education, the pupil after his admission was placing himself under the supervision and guidance of a preceptor. The main ideas of this connection of teacher and pupil were taken over from Brahmanic education, like the Vedic system the pupil was going to bed later than his preceptor and was getting up earlier. Early in the morning the pupil had to give water, clay, teeth cleanser, etc. to his preceptor. The pupil was sweeping and cleaning the room and was also going for begging with his preceptor. But the pupil was always keeping a distance while following the preceptor.

The preceptor also had certain responsibilities towards his pupils. He had to treat the pupil as his own son and also helped him at the time of distress. But the most sacred and noble duty of the preceptor was to impart intellectual and spiritual education of a higher order to his pupils. The preceptor was an ideal before his pupils as he possessed excellent moral character, self-possession and spiritualism.

It is quite evident from the writings of Huen-Tsang that in the Vihars like Nalanda, there were profound scholars who put forth a living example before the pupils. Thus the pupil preceptor relationship was pious, cordial and intimate. The preceptor was held in high esteem and greatly respected. The only difference between the pupil and the preceptor was merely spiritual superiority of the latter to the former.

However, Buddhist education influenced the general mass of the people, at least those who adhered to Buddhism, and provided opportunities for popular instruction. Even then, this system of education was not altogether immune from defects. So much it was dominated by religions that arts and crafts, in the last phase of it, came to be looked down upon by the members of higher classes and ultimately they gave them up completely.8

In comparison to Vedic age the ratio of mass education decreased considerably. Due lo certain lapses and laxity of central organization the ‘Samgha(order) which was regarded as the veritable forte of Buddhist religion, ultimately proved to be the sole cause of its downfall. As this system of education was founded on the principles of nonviolence and renunciation of the world, the military art and science could not make satisfactory progress. In the garb of democracy arbitrariness prevailed.

According to Buddhist religion the world is full of sorrows and sufferings. Therefore, the sole aim of life was considered to be the attainment of salvation (Nirvana) by renouncing the world. This aim of life reflected in the aim of education and it naturally resulted in artificiality.

The meaning of the struggle of lifewas confined lo mere metaphysical speculation. As a result the all-round progress and development of life received a serious blow. But in course of time certain drawbacks and weaknesses crept into the system. Democratic principles were abused and the monks and nuns felt victim to moral turpitude and corruption.

At length, the foreigners invaded the country. With her poor military skill and organization she failed to meet the challenges of the foreigners and the pace of downfall accelerated. Buddhism had considerable influence upon Indian philosophic thought and

8. Expulsion of pupils
The teachers of a Buddhist monastery were empowered to expel any student on charge of misconduct or any type of serious disobedience. However, the student was expelled only when it was definitely ascertained that he lacked faith and respect for the teacher and the other things related to the sanctity of the monastery. After the death of the teacher or when the teacher changed his religion or left the monastery for elsewhere, the students also deserted the monastery. The education of the concerned students ended then and there.

religious ideals. But on the educational side it is difficult to estimate the amount of its influence. It goes without saying that Buddhism have done something to extend amongst the people of India the desire and also stimulated a demand for some popular education.

As a natural consequence, Buddhism along with the system of education declined gradually in India, and the Brahmanic system of education came into ascendancy anew through the efforts of the religious thinkers and philosophers such as Shankaracharya, Madhavacharya etc.


Financing of education during this period became systematized and stabilized. The casual manner of assisting educational institutions, as in the previous period could not hold good. The random gifts and occasional charities were inadequate to meet the daily requirements of the Viharas and monasteries.

The sources of revenue to education continued to be almost the same as in Vedic period. But in order to ensure a continuous flow of resources to the educational institutions, some of the sources became stable and fixed. During the period, the state shouldered greater responsibility for maintenance of these temples of learning and education enjoyed royal patronage.

Emperor Ashoka helped for the expansion of education by establishing many monasteries, nunneries and edicts throughout his empire. Due to his endeavour live hundred monasteries were built in Kashmir alone. King Kanishka of Kushana dynasty was a great patron of scholars. The eminent Buddhist scholars Nagarjuna, Asvaghosha, Vasumitra and the celebrated physician Charaka enjoyed his patronage.

The Gupta rulers Samudra Gupta and Chandra Gupta II were great patrons of famous scholars. To mention a few Vasubandhu, Harisena and Kalidasa flourished during Gupta period. Harshas exemplary munificence to the cause of learning influenced and inspired other kings to open their treasuries to accelerate the progress of education and learning.



Aggarwal, J.C. (2004). Development of Educational System in India, Shipra Publication, Delhi.

Bhatnagar, Suresh, Ed. (2002). Development of Education System in India, R. Lall Book Depot, Meerut.

Mathur, V.S. (1968). Studies in Indian Education, Agra Book Depot, New Delhi.

Srivastva, R.C. (1973). Theory and Practice of Teacher Education in India, Chug Publication, Allahabad.

Thakur,   A.S.   and   Beswal,   Sandeep   (2008).   Development   of Educational System in India, Shipra Publications, Delhi.

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