Guru teaching students in a gurukul

A gurukul or gurukulam (Sanskrit: गुरुकुल, romanizedgurukul) is a type of education system in ancient India with shishya ('students' or 'disciples') living near or with the guru in the same house for a period of time where they learn and get educated by their guru.[1] Tradition by contrast, the word Guru has a very restricted use and not generally applied to individual teachers, while the institution of Gurdwara has a major social role instead of a monastic one.) The word gurukula is a combination of the Sanskrit words guru ('teacher' or 'master') and kula ('family' or 'home').[2][3] The term is also used today to refer to residential monasteries or schools operated by modern gurus.[4] The proper plural of the term is gurukulam, though gurukuls is also used in English and some other European languages.

The students learn from the guru and help the guru in his everyday life, including carrying out of mundane daily household chores. However, some scholars suggest that the activities are not mundane and very essential part of the education to inculcate self-discipline among students.[5] Typically, a guru does not receive or accept any fees from the shishya studying with him as the relationship between a guru and the shishya is considered very sacred.[6]

At the end of one's education, a shishya offers the guru dakshina before leaving the gurukul.[3] The gurudakshina is a traditional gesture of acknowledgment, respect and thanks to the guru, which may be monetary, but may also be a special task the teacher wants the student to accomplish.[3] While living in a gurukula, the students would be away from their home from a period of months to years at a stretch. Through Gurukul, students used to learn self discipline, politeness, good humanism and spirituality that would assist them to be an enlightened person in the future.


Arya Samaj Gurukul School boys performing Homa ritual (1915)

The gurukul system of education has been in existence since ancient times. The Upanishads (1000-800 BCE) mention multiple gurukulam, including that of guru Drona at Gurgaon.[2] The Bhrigu Valli (a discourse on the Brahman) is said to have taken place in Guru Varuni's gurukula. The vedic school of thought prescribes the gurukula (sacred rite of passage) to all individuals before the age of 8 at least by 12. From initiation until the age of 25 all individuals are prescribed to be students and to remain unmarried, a celibate.

Gurukulam were supported by public donations. This was followed by the many following Vedic thoughts making gurukul one of the earliest forms of public school centres.

18th century and colonial period

Main article: Dharampal § Relevance

Dharampal was instrumental in changing the understanding of pre-colonial Indian education system.[7][5] Dharampal primary works are based on documentation by the colonial government on Indian education, agriculture, technology, and arts during the period of colonial rule in India.[8][9] His pioneering historical research, conducted intensively over a decade, provides evidence from extensive early British administrators’ reports of the widespread prevalence of indigenous educational institutions in Bombay, Bengal and Madras Presidencies as well as in the Punjab, teaching a sophisticated curriculum, with daily school attendance by about 30% of children aged 6–15.[10]

Revival of the Gurukul system

By the colonial era, the system was on a steep decline in India. Dayananda Saraswati, the founder of Arya Samaj and Swami Shraddhanand, were the pioneers of the modern gurukul system, who in 1886 founded now-widespread Dayanand Anglo-Vedic Public Schools and Universities.[11][12][13]

In 1948, Shastriji Maharaj Shree Dharamjivan das Swami followed suit and initiated first Swaminarayan gurukul in Rajkot in Gujarat state of India. Recently, several gurukulam have opened up in India as well as overseas with a desire to uphold tradition.

Various gurukulas still exist in India, and researchers have been studying the effectiveness of the system through those institutions.[5] With the advent of new means of mass communication, many gurus and Vedantic scholars are opening E-gurukul. These gurukuls are operating online and are now imparting knowledge about different Hindu scriptures using the internet.[14][15][16][17]

In 1990, Shrii Shrii Anandamurtiji founded Ananda Marga gurukul with its headquarters at Anandanagar, Dist Purulia, West Bengal, India and its branches all over the globe. {} He nominated Acharya Shambhushivananda Avadhuta as its kulapati (chancellor) and formed a skeletal structure for spreading "neohumanist education" all over the globe.

Scholarly works on Gurukul

Out of India

The gurukulam system of education is available outside of India as well. They are known as gurukul.

In Belgium

At the Jain Culture Center of Antwerp, children between the ages of 8 till 16 study Vedic mathematics, Art, Music, as well as Vedic Astrology, Jyotishi, Sanskrit and Yoga.

Children participate in this gurukul during holiday times at the traditional schools, for a week in October / November, 2 weeks during Easter break, and 1 month during summer break.

See also


  1. ^ Yin Cheong Cheng; Kwok Tung Tsui; King Wai Chow; Magdalena Mo Ching Mok, eds. (2002). Subject Teaching and Teacher Education in the New Century: Research and Innovation. Sikh.
  2. ^ a b "Did You Know The True Story Behind Gurugram?". IndiaTimes. April 13, 2016.
  3. ^ a b c Kachappilly, Kurian. "Gurukula: A Family with Difference - An Exposition of the Ancient Indian System of Education" – via ((cite journal)): Cite journal requires |journal= (help)
  4. ^ "नित्यानंद ने 70 लोगों को दी दीक्षा" [Nithyananda initiated 70 people]. Dainik Jagran (in Hindi). Retrieved 7 April 2018. ... [C]hildren of Swami Nithyananda's gurukul school demonstrated ....]
  5. ^ a b c Joshi, Ankur; Gupta, Rajen K. (July 2017). "Elementary education in Bharat (that is India): insights from a postcolonial ethnographic study of a Gurukul". International Journal of Indian Culture and Business Management. 15 (1): 100–120. doi:10.1504/IJICBM.2017.085390.
  6. ^ Joshi, Ankur; Bindlish, Puneet; Verma, Pawan Kumar (2014-12-01). "A Post-colonial Perspective towards Education in Bharat". Vision. 18 (4): 359–363. doi:10.1177/0972262914552171. ISSN 0972-2629. S2CID 144782215.
  7. ^ Kakkar, Ankur (2019-02-19). "Remembering Dharampal's Seminal Contribution". IndiaFacts. Retrieved 2020-12-27.
  8. ^ "Dharampal's 'The Beautiful Tree: Indigenous Indian Education in the Eighteenth Century". 22 December 2019.
  9. ^ Basu, Aparna (February 1985). "Comparative Education Review Volume 29, Number 1 Feb. 1985". Comparative Education Review. 29 (1): 137–140. doi:10.1086/446501.
  10. ^ The Beautiful Tree: Indigenous Indian Education in the Eighteenth Century. Keerthi Publishing House. 1995.
  11. ^ Gurukula Patrika, April–July, 1940-41, Ank 10, (12 June 1940), P.1
  12. ^ Madalsa Ujjwal, 2008, "Swami Dayanand Saraswati Life and Ideas", Book Treasure Publications, Jodhpur, PP.96-97
  13. ^ Gunjun H. Shakshi, 1971, "Social and Humanistic Life in India", Abhinav Publications, Delhi, PP.122-124.
  14. ^ "Online drive promoting Vedas, Vedic education | Allahabad News - Times of India". The Times of India.
  15. ^ "GRD Iyers Home". GRD IYERS GURUCOOL. Retrieved 2021-03-16.
  16. ^ "Gurukul Online – Learn Vedic knowledge at your own place". Retrieved 2021-03-16.
  17. ^ Sharma, Yatendra (2020-06-03). "RSS affiliate starts online Vedic Mathematics course for students". The Daily Guardian. Retrieved 2021-03-16.
  19. ^ Mukhopadhyay, Marmar (2020). Total Quality Management in Education. B1/I-1 Mohan Cooperative Industrial Area, Mathura Road New Delhi 110 044: SAGE Publications Pvt Ltd. doi:10.4135/9789353885977. ISBN 978-93-5388-281-5. S2CID 107904632.((cite book)): CS1 maint: location (link)
  20. ^ Mukhopadhyay, Marmar; Parhar, Madhu (November 2001). "Instructional design in multi‐channel learning system". British Journal of Educational Technology. 32 (5): 543–556. doi:10.1111/1467-8535.00224. ISSN 0007-1013.
  21. ^ Joshi, Ankur; Gupta, Rajen K. (2017). "Elementary education in Bharat (that is India): insights from a postcolonial ethnographic study of a Gurukul". International Journal of Indian Culture and Business Management. 15 (1): 100. doi:10.1504/ijicbm.2017.085390. ISSN 1753-0806.
  22. ^ Joshi, Ankur; Bindlish, Puneet; Verma, Pawan Kumar (December 2014). "A Post-colonial Perspective towards Education in Bharat". Vision: The Journal of Business Perspective. 18 (4): 359–363. doi:10.1177/0972262914552171. ISSN 0972-2629. S2CID 144782215.
  23. ^ Sukhada, N.A.; Dhital, Vishwanath; Joshi, Ankur; Nandram, Sharda S. (2021). "Delivering holistic education for contemporary times: Banasthali Vidyapith and the Gurukula system". International Journal of Business and Globalisation. 29 (2): 222. doi:10.1504/ijbg.2021.10041910. ISSN 1753-3627. S2CID 239219043.