Difference Between Buddhistic and Brahminical/Vedic Education System


As a matter of fact, the entire educational system during the two periods was fundamentally identical. The differences discernible between the two systems lay in the fact that;

 Brahminical/Vedic Education System

1. The Brahmanic system was a domestic system of education. The forest home of the Guru was the school. The pupils were residing in the home of the Guru after performing the ceremony of initiation and were treated by him like his son. The pupils were looked upon as members of the Guru’s family and had all the consequent privileges and responsibilities. They were taught in a homely atmosphere.

Buddhistic Education System

The Buddhist system was a monastic system of education. The monasteries and viharas where Bhikshus were residing developed into educational institutions.
2. In the Brahmanic system one educational institution worked quite independently of the other. There was no common organisation for different educational institutions. Each Guru ran his institution in the way he liked, though certain features were common to all institutions. But in 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 ‘Sangh’ or the common organisation.
3. In Brahmanic system, Guru was the final authority. His orders had to be carried out by all who studied under him. Guru was like an autocrat. So in the sense it was an autocratic system of education. The seniority and pre-eminence of Guru always remained an admitted fact.
On the other hand the Buddhist system was democratic in character. It was not one man who ruled. Right from the time of admission up to the final stage when pupils left the Viharas everything was organised on democratic lines. This system accomplished the right to vote by the pupil in the deliberations of the ‘Samgha’ after his admission to it.
4. In the Brahmanic system the pupils had to stay with Guru for a period of 12 years from the date of admission. After the completion of the study they had the option to go back to their homes and live a worldly life. So household life formed an important aspect under the Vedic system.
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.
5. In the Brahmanic system the pupils were always under the close and constant supervision of their gurus. Individual was the teaching unit. As there was no class teaching the relation between teacher and taught was very cordial. With the expansion of education, the contact between the teacher and taught was not so close in the Buddhist system.
6. In the early Vedic period instruction was confine only to the young Brahmins to prepare them for their future vocation as priests. Later on education was thrown open to Kshatriyas and Vaishayas. Thus the rigid caste system had its influence upon the progress of education. There was no distinction between man and man on the basis of their castes in Buddhist system of education. “All castes were equally admissible to Buddhist community”, and were treated on the footing of equality.
7. In the Brahmanic system much emphasis was given on Vedic study. The teachers were all Brahmins. It was considered then that only the Brahmins had the privilege to teach. Adequate attention could not be paid to the secular subjects as undue stress was laid on rituals, prayer, sacrifices etc. But Buddhist education was not based upon Vedic study; even though Hindu religion formed an important part of the courses of studies. The teaching staff was non-Brahmins.
8. The Brahmanic system concentrates its attention on the study of Sanskrit. As a result it could not promote the education of common people. In Buddhist system the medium of instruction was Pali, the language of the common man. But the study of Sanskrit was not completely ignored.

9. During Brahmanic period military education, commercial training etc. formed a part of the courses of studies. Instruction in military education and vocational training were completely neglected during Buddhist period. Considerable attention was not paid to these subjects.
10. During Brahmanic period though there were centers of higher learning like Taxila which earned name and fame, yet foreign scholars were not so much attracted to those centers. But Buddhism internationalised the education. Reputed universities like Nalanda attracted foreign scholars and thus the Indian culture spread far and wide. It is largely through the long standing traditional background of Buddhist education that the harmonious, cultural, political and economic relations are being maintained with the Far-Eastern countries.

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