10 June 2015



Buddhism is one of the most remarkable development of Indian thought. It is an offshoot of later vedic thought.Buddhism is founded on the rejection of certain orthodox Hindu Philosophical concepts. It has many philosophical views with Hinduism, such as belief in Karma, a cause and effect relationship between all that has being done and all that will be done. Events that occur are held to be direct results of previous events. The ultimate goal for both is to eliminate Karma (both good & bad) , end the cycle of rebirth and suffering and attain freedom (Moksha or Nirvana). 
Buddhist education system (200B.C to 200 A.D) was founded by Lord Gautam Buddha. Gautam Buddha was primarily an ethical teacher and reformer and not a philosopher. He was concerned mainly with the problems of life. He avoided the discussion of metaphysical question because they are ethically useless and intellectually uncertain. He always discussed the most important questions of suffering, its cessation and the path leading to its cessation. 

Thus Buddha‘s enlightenment which he tried to share with all fellow-beings has come to be known as the four Noble Truths. Four Noble truths are: 
  1. There is suffering 
  2. There is cause of suffering 
  3.  There is cessation of suffering 
  4.  There is a way to cessation of suffering 
• Buddhists philosophy of life to get ‘Nirvana‘ from suffering is based on the following eight principles: 
  1. Right Faith (Samyak Dristi) 
  2. Right Resolve (Samyak Sankalpa) 
  3. Right Speech (Samyak Vakya) 
  4. Right Action (Samyak Karmanta) 
  5.  Right Living ( Samyak Ajiva) 
  6.  Right Thought (Samyak Smriti) 
  7.  Right concentration (Samyak Samadhi) 
  8.  Right Effort (Samyak Vyayama) 


Buddhist Education offered to impart education to all. Many people shifted to Buddhist system of education. It was for the first time in India that education was institutionalised on a large scale during Buddhist movement. It is also a historical fact that with the arrival of Buddhist era great international centres of education like Nalanda, Takshashila, Vikramshila, Ballabhi, Odantapuri, Nadia, Amravati, Nagahalla and Saranath were in prominence. Educational centres in Buddha period developed in Viharas and Sanghas. 

Aims of Education 

The Buddhist educational aims were comprehensive based on knowledge, social development, vocational development, religious development, character development aims which were as follows : 

• To follow the moral values of Buddhist religion 

• To adopt good conduct and violence 

• To achieve the final goal of Nirvana 

• To propagate Buddhism 

• To eradicate Vedic karmakanda or ritualism 

• To give up caste system 

• To take the teachings of Buddhism to the masses. 

• To leave yajna and sacrifices for achieving knowledge 

• To provide education in the language of masses i.e Pali 

• To emphasise the progress and development of the society rather than the individual 

• To provide education through the new system this was stated by Buddha. 

Principles of Education 

• Avidya that is ignorance must be removed through education as it is the root cause of sufferings 

• Education should be provided in peaceful sorroundings in Buddhists monastries, viharas and organised educational institutions instead of Gurukulas. 

• Pupils should be educated in a democratic atmosphere 

• Things of luxury must be prohibited for students. 

• Framed few commandments for the Suddhvi, Harika (new entrant) at the time of ‘Pabajja‘ ceremony. A ritual called as “pabajja ritual was necessary for admission to a monastery for education. Educational period for this phase was 12 years. 

• After 20 years of age Upsampada ritual was performen to gain an entry into higher education.Rules for second ceremony 

‘Upasampada were also laid down. 

Education System 

• Two tier system: 

1) Popular Elementary Education 

2) Higher Education 

Elementary Education: 

Popular Elementary education was religious in nature, included wordly education, upto the age of 12 years, pupils received instructions in reading, writing, arithtmetic and religion. 

• Curriculum of Elementary education : 

Thorough learning of Grammar,Hetu vidya (Logic), Nyaya (science of reasoning), Adyatma vidya (philosophy), shilpa sthan (arts & crafts) & chikitsya vidya (medicine) 

Higher education : 

Well organised, carried out at Buddhist monastries & Buddhist universities. Higher education was given to only those students who intended to be monks or nuns. Emphasised both theortical and practical aspects. 

Following subjects were included in the syllabus of higher education: 

Buddhism, Hinduism, Jainism, Theology, Philosophy, Metaphysics, Logic, Sanskrit, Pali, Astronomy, Astrology, Medicine, Law, Politics, Administration, Tantrik philosophy 

Methods of Teaching 

• Mostly verbal. 

• Question, answer, discussion and debates. 

• Agra shishya pranali (Monitorial system) 

• Travelling and Nature study method 

• Book method. 

• Preaching and conference method 

• Medium of instruction was pali and also importance to vernacular dialects were given. 

Teacher Taught Relationship 

• Close , Pure, good and affectionate 

• Teacher besides being a scholar of repute must have in himself inspiring ideals. 

• Like his students the teacher also used to spend life in simplicity, constant study, celibacy, following ideals and strength of character. 

• Both teacher and student were required the authority of reason and experience. 

• Students were required to maintain the freedom of thought 

• Disciplined in matter of morals and conduct 

• Maintain self restrained life 


• Cosmopolitan: Buddhist education was free from communal narrowness, there was no favouritism on the basis of caste , creed in the centres. 

• Total development of personality: Buddhist education laid much emphasis on the physical, mental and spiritual development of the novice, even today the aim of education is integration of personality that can develop the various aspects of the individual which are interlinked. 

• No corporal punishment: corporal punishments were absolutely forbidden which is also very true in the present scenario of education. 

• Positivism: Buddhist philosophy is positivistic and has a careful logical systematisation of ideas 

• Ethical: it is ethical, the eightfold path to Nirvana makes a universal appeal. 

• Democratic: it is democratic as it believed in freedom of enquiry. Democratic and republican procedures were followed while running the educational institutions. 

• Development of good conduct: the entire techniques of Buddhism provide directions to develop good conduct and which is also the essence of a sound system of education. Also its belief in Karma lays stress on the necessity to be constantly on the vigil to maintain one‘s conduct in the present life. 

• Moral Discipline : The Buddha Bhikku (monk) took the vows of chastity and of poverty. Character was the basis of moral discipline. 

• Emphasis on Manual skills : Training of manual skills like spinning and weaving was emphasized to enable men to earn for living. 

• Pragmatic : It is pragmatic, everything is in a state of flux as it is only momentary. Change is the rule of the universe. It does not believe in the absolutism. It is witnessed in the present era of globalisation. 

• Methods of Teaching : the methods of Instruction was oral . Preaching, repetition, exposition, discussion and debates were all used. Buddhist council organised ‘seminars‘ to discuss the major issues at length. Learned conferences, meditation, educational Tours. 

• International impact : Buddhist education helped India to gain international importance. It also developed cultural exchange between India and other countries of the world. international exchange of scholars attracted students and scholars from far off lands. 

• Value education & Character development: To be moral being one must follow noble path, the eightfold path as preached in Buddhism provides guidance for moral education and peace. The entire techniques of Buddhism provides directions to develop good conduct which is also the essence of sound system of education. 

• Curricullum: Curricullum included secular as well as religious subjects. 

• Organisation and Structure of Universities : Universities established during this period are still serving as a guiding force. The organization of Nallanda and Ballabhi university was advanced that it continues to influence the organization and structure of university till present day. The system of determining a minimum age for higher education, providing a set of rule and taking a test for admission are even today guiding the educational structure.

• Education as a social Institution : Education as a social institution got its existence as a result of Buddhist system of education.

• Imparting education in practical subjects : An important contribution of this period is the imparting of education in various practical subjects , a tradition which has come down to the present day also.

Collective Teaching Methodology : It was in this period that the method of collective teaching and the presence of numerous teachers in single institution was evolved.