Formal Education System in Ancient India

by Sushmita Nath | 2016 | 63,563 words

This page relates ‘Minor Ritual During Brahmacarya Period’ of the study on the (formal) education system in Ancient India with reference to Vedic and Buddhist period, investiging educational institutions and universities which existed during this time. Professional educational methods were found in ancient Sanskrit literature (Brahamanas, Dharma-Shastras, Puranas, Jatakas, etc.), including rules, ceremonies and duties of pupils in ancient India.

Minor Ritual During Brahmacarya Period

In the Student life, two types of minor rituals were very important. One at the beginning of initial stage and the second is at the end of middle stage education. These two types of rituals had to be performed by the student in his student life. But during the Brahmacarya period, the student also performed some other rituals like Upākarma or Śrāvaṇī ritual and Utsarjana ritual.

1. Upākarma ritual:

Upākarma ritual was the function to inaugurate a session. At the commencement of rainy season, this ritual was performed. Both the teacher and the students performed this ritual. The Upākarma ritual was also called Śrāvaṇī ritual because it was conducted once a year during the month of Śrāvaṇa (July to August)[1]. This ritual was very simple. The different authorities performed this ritual in their own style. But the central idea is common to all viz. in very opening day, the teachers and the students paid tribute and gratitude to the literary celebrity and intellectual giants of the past. They also offered oblations to their sacrificial deities. For paying tribute to the celebrities of the past and offered oblation to their deities, it aroused ambition in the mind of young scholar and they started their labour with great hope. Thus according to the Āśvalāyana Gṛhyasūtra[2], the school of Ṛgveda worshipped Sāvitrī, Śraddhā, Medhā, Prajña, Dhāraṇā and the Ṛsis of the Veda, and then recited the first and the last stanzas of the ten maṇḍalas of the Ṛgveda, offering oblation of curds and Saktu to Agni. The school of Yajurveda first offered oblations to the sacrificial deities for success in the performance of sacrifices in which they wanted to specialize, and then they invoked the deities of the Saṃhitās and their Ṛṣis. Next the four Vedic Saṃhitās viz. the Ṛgveda, the Yajurveda, the Sāmaveda and the Atharvaveda together with Itihāsa, Purāṇa to receive the respectful tribute to living generation. In this connection, the school of Yajurveda also paid their homage to the memory of scholars who had built up their studies: Krishna Dvaipāyana, Vaiśampāyana, Tittri, Ātreya, Kauṇḍinya, the Vṛttikāra, Baudhāyana, the Pravacanakāra, Āpastamba the Sūtrakara, and also to Satyashaḍha, Hiraṇyakśin, Vājasaneya, Yājñavalkya, Bhāradvāja and Agnivaśya. All these celebrated scholars were paying tribute in the opening day of the School. For this ritual the students were inspired to see the wroth successors of the past and they create the sense of responsibility in learning and started their education with great hope.

1) Utsarjana Ceremony:

Utsarjana ceremony was the annual dispersal or closure ceremony[3]. This ceremony was performed at the end of the session. In the sixth day of Pauṣ or the first day of Māgha (January–February), this ceremony was performed. Like the Upākarma ritual, the Utsarjana ceremony also follows the same procedure. In the last day of the session, the students were paid tribute and respect to the literary celebrate and the intellectual giants. The students also paid respect to their worthy successors before the end of the session.

Footnotes and references:


Śrāvanyāṃ prauṣṭapdyāṃ vāhapyupākṛtya yathāvidhi | yuktścandāṃsyadhīyīta māsān viprohardva pañcamān ||Manusmṛti IV.95.


Atha svādhayāmdhīyita ṛco yajuṃsi sāmānyatharvaṅgiraso…………………namo vāce namo vacasptaye namo viṣṇave mahate karomi iti||Ā.G.S.III.3


Etadutsajanam || Ā.G.S.III.V.23.

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