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Guru teaching students in a gurukula

Gurukula (Sanskrit: गुरुकुल, translit. gurukula) was a type of residential schooling system in ancient India with shishya (students) living near or with the guru, in the same house.[1] The guru-shishya tradition is a sacred one in Hinduism and appears in other religious groups in India, such as Jainism, Buddhism and Sikhism. The word gurukula is a combination of the sanskrit words guru (teacher or master) and kula (family or home).[2][3] Before the British rule, they served as South Asia's primary educational system.

In a gurukula, the students living together are considered as equals,[4] irrespective of their social standing.[3][4] They learn from the guru and help the guru in his everyday life, including carrying out of mundane daily household chores. However, some scholars suggest that the activities are not mundane and very essential part of the education to inculcate self-discipline among students.[5] Typically, a guru does not receive or accept any fees from the shishya studying with him as the relationship between a guru and the shishya is considered very sacred.[6]

At the end of one's education, a shishya offers the guru dakshina before leaving the gurukula.[3][4] The gurudakshina is a traditional gesture of acknowledgment, respect and thanks to the guru, which may be monetary, but may also be a special task the teacher wants the student to accomplish.[3][4] While living in a gurukula, the students would be away from their home from a period of months to years at a stretch and disconnected from their family completely.


Arya Samaj Gurukul School boys performing Homa ritual 1915.jpg

The gurukula system of education has been in existence since ancient times. The Upanishads mention multiple gurukula's, including that of guru Drona at Gurgaon.[2] The Bhrigu Valli (a discourse on the Brahman) is said to have taken place in Guru Varuni's Gurukula. The vedic school of thought prescribes the Upanayana (sacred rite of passage) to all individuals before the age of 8 at least by 12. From initiation until the age of 25 all individuals are prescribed to be students and to remain unmarried, a celibate.

The gurukula's were supported by public donations. This was followed by the many following Vedic thoughts making gurukula one of the earliest forms of public school centres.

Revival of the Gurukula System[edit]

By the colonial era, the gurukula system was on a steep decline in India. Dayananda Saraswati, the founder of Arya Samaj and Swami Shraddhanand, were the pioneers of the modern gurukula system, who in 1886 founded now-widespread Dayanand Anglo-Vedic Public Schools and Universities.[7][8][9]

In 1948, Shastriji Maharaj Shree Dharamjivan das Swami followed suit and initiated first Swaminarayan gurukula in Rajkot in Gujarat state of India. Recently, several gurukulas have opened up in india as well as Overseas with a desire to uphold tradition.

Today various gurukulas still exist in the country and researchers have been studying the inherent element of the system through those institutions.[5]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Yin Cheong Cheng; Kwok Tung Tsui; King Wai Chow; Magdalena Mo Ching Mok, eds. (2002). Subject Teaching and Teacher Education in the New Century: Research and Innovation. Springer. p. 194. ISBN 962-949-060-9. 
  2. ^ a b True story behind Gurugram
  3. ^ a b c d - Gurukula: A Family with Difference - An Exposition of the Ancient Indian System of Education
  4. ^ a b c d American International Journal of Research in Humanities, Arts and Social Sciences: Comparative study of ancient gurukula system and the new trend of guru-shishya parampara, ISSN (Online): 2328-3696, ISSN (CD-ROM): 2328-3688
  5. ^ a b Joshi, Ankur; Gupta, Rajen K. (July 2017). "Elementary education in Bharat (that is India): insights from a postcolonial ethnographic study of a Gurukul". International Journal of Indian Culture and Business Management. 15 (1): 100–120. 
  6. ^ Joshi, Ankur; Bindlish, Puneet; Verma, Pawan Kumar (2014-12-01). "A Post-colonial Perspective towards Education in Bharat". Vision. 18 (4): 359–363. doi:10.1177/0972262914552171. ISSN 0972-2629. 
  7. ^ Gurukula Patrika, April–July, 1940-41, Ank 10, (12 June 1940), P.1
  8. ^ Madalsa Ujjwal, 2008, "Swami Dayanand Saraswati Life and Ideas", Book Treasure Publications, Jodhpur, PP.96-97
  9. ^ Gunjun H. Shakshi, 1971, "Social and Humanistic Life in India", Abhinav Publications, Delhi, PP.122-124.