Department of Buddhist Studies

Impact of Buddhist Centres of learning on Education system in India

One of the greatest contributions of Buddhism to India was organizing the system of education. Before the advent of Buddhism, Education was imparted through the Gurukul, which was mostly disorganized. But after the advent of Buddhism, Education transformed itself to an organized system. It is said that Buddhism laid the foundation for a new and special education system in ancient India. Buddhism made a tremendous movement which played a valuable role in the development of education system in ancient India or ancient Buddhist world. It is well known that with the rise of Buddhism in India there dawned the golden age of India’s culture and civilization. There was progress in all aspects of Indian civilization under the impact of Buddhism. There arose many centers of learning like Nalanda in Bihar, Taxtila in UP, and Ratnagiri Odisha.

These centres of learning played a significant role to spread the knowledge of Philosophy, history, and logic. Besides it, the goal of Buddha’s teaching the goal of Buddha education is to attain wisdom. The chief aim of Buddhist education was all round development of child’s personality. This included his physical, mental, moral and intellectual development. The aim of Buddhist Education is to make a free man, a wise intelligent, moral, non-violent and secular man. Student became judicious, humanist, logical, and free from superstitious. Students became free from geed, just and ignorance. Buddhist education was wide open and available to the people of all walks of life. The Principal goal of the Buddhist Education is to change an unwise to wise, beast hood to Buddha hood.

Buddhist education made revolutionary change in the society. The Buddhist in the world first made education open to all students irrespective of caste, creed, and religion got opportunity to have education which was denied by the superior class in the society. In India also, in Vedic Educational schools students from lower classes were refused to get admission.

The monasteries or Buddha Vihars were the chief centres of learning and only the Buddhist monks could be admitted to them for education. Thus there was no planned arrangement for mass education as such during the period. It from this position it would wrong to construe that the Buddhist monks were unmindful of the education of the people in general. So at the time of begging aims the monks used to remove the religious doubts of the people through their interesting conversation or short and alps lectures. Thus the people in general received moral and religious education from the monks.

In addition to it, Buddhism encouraged the women educations in the early history of Buddhism, however the permission was given to women to enter the order and gave a fairly good impetus to female education, especially in aristocratic and commercial sections of society large number of ladies from these circles joined the order and became lifelong students of religion and philosophy. Their example must have given an indirect encouragement to the spread of education among the lay women as well.

Buddhist Samgha had given attention to the cultural development and social uplift of women. Mostly women entered the samgha out of keen interest and deep religious feelings. The sister of Emperor Asoka Sanghamitra was very famous Bhikshunis, who had done remarkable services of Buddhism.

During the Buddhist period also education had syllabus spinning weaving, Printing of the clothes, tailoring, sketching, accountancy, medicines, surgery and coinage were the other subjects of Buddhist education. In later period according to the demand of the society and professional education, art, sculpture, architecture, medicine also included in the syllabus. Buddhist education came out from the religious arena and went out for the benefit of the mankind.

There were two types of education primary and higher education. In primary education reading, writing and arithmetic were taught and in higher education religion philosophy Ayurveda, military training was included. Everyone was free to choose his subject without any restriction.

Conference were arranged on every full moon and 1st day of month in the Buddhist samghas. The monks of the different samghas assembled and put forward their doubts freely. The attendance and put every monks was compulsory in such conference on the beginning and close of every month learned people used to assemble together. This type of assembly together was a very important part of Buddhist education. The purpose of this assembly was to maintain the moral standards of all the monks, because the total education was based on morality. This assembly was quite democratic an ST has immense moral impact on all concerned. In order to win discussion or shastrartha and impress the general public, it was necessary to improve the power of discussion. The importance of discussion encouraged the logic in Buddhist period. The controversial matters could not be decided without logical argument. Logic was also useful in the development of mental power and knowledge.

From above discussion, it appears that Buddhism contributed for well organized centres, it was free from communal narrowness, it laid much emphasis on the physical, mental and spiritual development of the students, Buddhist education helped to gain international importance it also developed cultural exchange between India and other countries of the world.

So, keeping this above mentioned fact in mind, National Institute of Social Work and Social Sciences has planned to organized the National Seminar on “Impact of Buddhist centre of learning on educational system in India”.

  • Establishment of Buddhist centre of learning in ancient India.
  • Centre of higher learning and research existing in erstwhile Indian subcontinent as mentioned in travelogues of Chinese Pilgrims.
  • Form and contents of Buddhist Studies found in Viharas and Mahavihars.
  • Contributions of Buddhist Scholars either in Inside or outside Samgha at different place of India.