You are in deep sleep. You feel you can hear your mother calling out to you and you suddenly realize it’s for real. “Wake up”! “Wake up”! It’s time to get ready to go to school. Brush and bathe. Quick! I’ll get your breakfast ready.
Wow’ You are ready on time. You either go by your school bus or one of your parents might drop you. You enter the school premises neat and smart. What with your pressed uniform, shiny Black shoes, tie, a badge, and sometimes a blazer too.
You sit on comfortable benches or chairs, listen to the various teachers, teaching and copy down everything into a book. The Bell rings. It’s Lunch time. You are hungry. You eagerly open your lunch box.
Dear Mother, she has packed your favourite dish. You are excited. You finish your lunch, go back to classes and after school hours, return home, happily. Yet again mother has kept ready your favourite snacks. You enjoy and then leave for playing or watching TV.
My God! You are so lucky to have such a comfortable life.
Long long Back this was not the situation. It was a totally a different one.
- The Gurukul System:
In this System the children had to stay with the “GURUS” in their Ashrams to study. Most of the times it would be the Vedas, but they were taught other Life Skills too. They had to stay away from their parents years together and were addressed as “Disciples”.
Disciples may be related as “Highly Disciplined”. They had to be highly disciplined in every way: Waking Up, food Habits till the time they went to bed. They would wake up long before sun rise, complete their ablutions, carry out the chores for both the Guru and the Guru Patni and then attend classes. Classes was mostly under a tree or in natural surroundings.
When the Guru felt they could lead life independent, he would administer a test the disciples wouldn’t know it was a test at all and it wasn’t a written test like you have now. You sometimes learn byheart and score marks. Marks is the measuring yardstick now. It was not so, then. The disciple would be tested for many moral values like: intelligence, loyalty, honesty, dedication, and more so on. Example: Once the disciples were given a test to acknowledge God’s presence. All the disciples were given a banana and instructed to eat where no one saw them. After some time, all of them returned empty handed except one. The guru asked each one: “Where did you eat the Banana?” One said, “I went far away where the place was deserted”. Another said “I went behind a tree “. One of them even said “I ate it inside the bathroom”. The Guru then asked the disciple who had returned without eating. He said “A Human being might not see, me eating but god is Omnipresent. He can see each and every action of ours. This was how the tests were done. Were there punishments in the gurukul? Yes, sometimes if it was inevitable. The ones weaker in studies were punished but the punishments had a lot of meaning and were effective .Improvement could be seen in them. They had to hold their ear lobes tight, cross hand and do many sit ups .This would activate both the sides of the brain .
- “Weekly feed” or “Varanna” as in Kannada:
Let’s now move onto more recent times to the concept of “Weekly feed” or “Varanna”. Dear Children, please pay a lot more attention to this
Parents who could not afford to feed their child well, would go looking for families who were good enough to feed them one day in a week. So, the student (I now use the word student) had to visit 7 different houses a week and study. This would go on for years till the student completed his studies. Just imagine: Would all the families treat the student well? He might have had to swallow insults. [But today I myself have seen that students who studied this way are all well placed in the society and have a lot of compassion for others]. Aren’t you very fortunate not to face this situation? Yet another where students might have to stay away from parents.
Here too the condition is not easy. The student will have to follow strict rules. It’s not like your home, when your mother serves you meals at your convenience. If the student is not on time at the dinner table: he has to go without it. At home: you enjoy bathing leisurely, pouring lots and lots of water. There: you are given only a small pail of water. If you are there in the bathroom more than five minutes others keep knocking and banging on the door. Students have to share rooms with three or four others who might not be as neat as he/she expects. Limited socializing: They can’t go out and come in as they wish. They will have to follow strict timings .Most important , Dear Children: as they are away from the parents ,there is no one to keep an eye on them and there are chances of they moving away from the righteous path which give the parents a lot of pain and their own life also might get spoilt.
So Dear Children:
Realize how lucky you are. You are with your close-knit families, enjoying all the luxuries. Please don’t take advantage of this. Use the electrical and other gadgets limitedly. Enjoy your student hood: Study well and be an asset to yourself, your parents, your institution and most importantly your nation/Motherland. Choose your subject of interest. There is nothing high or low in it.
All the Best.