präpte tu ñoòaçevarñeputraà mitra-vadäcaret
One should fondle his son up to the point of five years old. Thereafter one should administer punishment for the next ten years. But when one’s son reaches the age of sixteen one should act as a friend towards him.
Here Chanakya Pandit outlines an important element of the educational system in traditional India. Up to the age of five the children stayed at home where they received much love and care from their parents. These initial impressions are very important because they create a sense of security and trust in the child’s mind.
The next ten-fifteen years were dedicated to cultivating proper character and receiving training in a particular field according to child’s natural inclination. According to the Vedas there are four basic types of such inclinations: 1) towards religion and scholarship, 2) towards protection and leadership, 3) towards trade and farming, and 4) towards art, craft, and manual work. The teachers were experts in ascertaining the natural leaning of the pupils and were training them accordingly. For the boys this was done in the traditional Indian schools called Gurukula (the girl’s education continued mostly in a home environment). At the Gurukula the pupils were trained by qualified teachers of perfect character who taught not just in theory but, most importantly, by personal example. Since the teachers already possessed the qualities they expected the students to develop, the teaching process was smooth and natural. At the Gurukula the pupils cultivated virtues invaluable for their success in future – discipline, respect for authority, humility, tolerance, determination, enthusiasm etc.They also masteredthe spiritual knowledgeof the connection between man, God, and the Universe, the ultimate goal of human life and the method for attaining it.
All these achievements are impossible without following strict discipline. Proper training requires administering adequate amount and type of correction. According to the Vedic tradition, the Teacher should always point out the mistakes of the disciple and correct them with love – otherwise the disciple will become spoiled.
After proper schooling between the age of 5 and 15 the boys were already so well trained that they were able to realize the value of the education they were receiving and to follow all rules of the school with maturity and understanding. They were also actively helping in training the younger pupils.