What were the Methods of Study in the Gurukul?
While imparting knowledge of the self, Yajnavalkya speaks thus to his wife Maitreyi verily, the Self is to be seen, to be heard, to be perceived, to be marked. When the self has been seen, heard, perceived and known, then all this is known.’
The first stage of the study was listening. The second was Abhyas, i.e., practice or the recitation of the text taught. The third stage was immediate apprehension of the meaning. The fourth stage was that of Phala which means comprehension of results.
The fifth stage was Arihavada, which stands for the study of explanatory texts and the Brahmana texts. The sixth was Upapatti or attainment of conclusions. Thus these were the six principal stages of the method of study.
The Guru used to tell stories, parables and apt illustration for helping the students to comprehend the matter. At times discourses and disputation (Shastrartha) were also organised for the benefit of the pupils.
The Guru never arranged examinations for his pupils. He used to pay individual attention to each student However; this does not mean that the pupils’ performance was not assessed. While the pupil was, performing his various duties in the Gurukul, the Guru used to supervise all his activities. Thus his performance was being assessed every day.
The Guru used to be very fair in his assessment. He never showed any favor to any particular student if the Guru declared any pupil fit, the latter could again come to him for further instruction whenever he desired. Indira took a certain problem for investigation for which he had to stay for 101 years with his Guru. It was after 101 years that Indra was declared successful.
On completion of his education the student used to take his last bath in the Gurukul. After this bath the student was finally addressed by the Guru thus:-
“Speak the truth. Do your duty. Do not neglect the study of Vedas
Do not neglect greatness. Do not neglect the sacrificial works due to gods and fathers. Let your mother be to you like into a god, let your father be to you like into a god. Let your Guru be to you like into a god, let your guest be to you like into a god.
Whatever actions are blameless, those should be followed, and not others. What is given should be given with faith, not without faith with joy, with modesty, with fear and with kindness … and soon …”