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Education in Later Vedic Period
Education in Later Vedic period was given prime importance and was at its peak. The guru shishya relationship was highly emphasized.
 There was a well-planned system of education in later Vedic period. The student was initiated by the ceremony of Upanayana. Student enters a new life which is described as a second birth. In the life of a Brahmachari the student leads a life of simple living and high thinking. Life is regulated. The aims of learning are faith, retention of knowledge, progeny, wealth, longevity and immortality.

The essence of the Education system was that the student had to take up residence in the home of his teacher. The student wore the skin of antelope, the girdle of Kusa grass and collected fuel for worshipping Lord Agni. His main duties were to beg for his teacher, to look after the sacrificial fires and tend the house and his cattle. Day time sleeping was forbidden. The teacher then initiates him into the various aspects of knowledge. The student as a rule studied with his preceptor for twelve years.

There were also associations for advanced study and research. One such association was Panchala-parisad. Kings also organized conferences where philosophers participated in discussions. King Janaka of Videha organized one such Conference that was presided over by sage Yajnavalkya. The ultimate aim of education in later Vedic period was the attainment of highest knowledge, the knowledge of Brahman or Atman as the supreme reality. Other than the domestic schools, there were specialized agencies to impart fruitful education. There were the wandering scholars, charakas who spread education in the country. Women participated in these conferences. Women even addressed a congress of philosophers. In the Rig Veda women have also composed hymns. The Kshatriya caste had encouraged learning.

Education in the later Vedic period was strategically limited to the main three upper castes. The guru shishya tradition as one of the most sacred traditions of India was accepted in the sphere of education in later Vedic period. The subjects of study during that time included the four Vedas, Grammar, Mathematics, Mineralogy, Logic, Ethics, Brahma-Vidya, Biology, Military Science, Astronomy, and Medicine. Dhanur Vidya or war tactics was also a part of education in later Vedic period. Education was aimed at the knowledge of the Atman (soul) or the absolute or self-realization. The story of Nachiketas in the Katha Upanishad can be sited as an example.

(Last Updated on : 01/11/2010)
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