'Gurukul' literally means 'family of Guru' or 'clan of Guru' but it has been behaving in the sense of education in India for centuries. The history of Gurukuls contains the history of India's education system and defense of knowledge science.
In the development of Indian culture, the beliefs of four Purusharthas, four varnas and four ashrams were interdependent for the accomplishment of their objectives, Gurukul was also a great seeker in their success. Brahmins, Kshatriyas and Vaishya children were taken to the Gurukuls at 6, 8 or 11 years of age (Yagyopaveet, Upanayana or Upavita) by sacrificial rituals and seated near the Guru and studied as Brahmachari. The Guru completes his psyche and intellectual rites, teaches him all the scriptures and useful disciplines and finally initiates and marries him and sends him back to perform various duties of householders' labor.
This initiated and inclusive bachelor would have been a full-fledged citizen and would have taken measures to attain the trilogy while carrying out various responsibilities of the society.
It is clear that the Gurukuls had an important role in the development of Indian civilization and culture. Schools where students get education away from their family by being part of the teacher's family. Such schools were of great importance in the ancient history of India. Students studying in the Gurukul of famous Acharyas were highly respected everywhere. Rama received education by staying at sage Vashistha. Similarly, the Pandavas got education by staying at the sage Drona.
In ancient times, ashrams of sages like Dhaumya, Chyavan Rishi, Dronacharya, Sandipani, Vasistha, Vishwamitra, Valmiki, Gautama, Bharadwaj were famous. In the Buddhist period, Gurukul world famous was associated with the tradition of Buddha, Mahavira and Shankaracharya, where Mumukshu used to come from all over the world and where all kinds of education was given in mathematics, astrology, astronomy, science, physical etc.
Valmiki Ashram: Sage Valmiki's ashram was also famous in the country. Valmiki also had fame as Adikavi. Valmiki, who happened to be during the reign of Shri Ram, wrote 'Ramayana'. In the Valmiki Ramayana, Valmiki himself has written in verses 7/93/16, 7/96/18 and 7/1111/11 that he is the son of Pracheta. In Manusmriti, Pracheta has been described as the brother of Vasishta, Narada, Pulastya etc. It is said that Pracheta also has a name Varun. He was born to Varun (Aditya), the ninth son of Maharishi Kashyapa and Aditi. His mother was Chashani and brother Bhrigu.
The curses that came out of the mouth of Valmiki for the huntsman were in the form of a verse in the cosmic stanza when Vyadhha killed one of the pairs of Konch birds on the banks of the Tamsa River. In this same verse, he composed the Ramayana based on the story of Ram heard from Narada.
Sitaji had spent the last period of his exile at his ashram, where Luv and Kush were born. Maharishi Valmiki was the guru of tribals and forest dwellers. His ashram was in present-day Turturiya. Turturiya District Raipur is located on the banks of the Balamdeyi River flowing between the hills of Waranga, about 150 km from Chhattisgarh. It is situated under a forest area 15 miles from Sirpur. There is a Janaki hut on the way to visit Valmiki Ashram and Ashram at one place in Matagarh.
Each gurukula was famous for its specialty. Some were skilled in teaching archery and some in teaching Vedic knowledge. Some were skilled in astrology and astronomy in teaching weapons. As it happens nowadays, engineering college is different and commerce college is different.
There were three types of education institutions under the Gurukuls of ancient India -
(1) Gurukul - where students stayed in the ashram and studied with the Guru,
(2) Council - where education was given by experts,
(3) Tapasthali - Where there were big conferences and gatherings and discourses yielded knowledge. Naimisharanya was one such place.
Millions of students have been studying in the Gurukul Ashrams since time immemorial. The Acharyas of the Gurukul Ashrams of India were called Upadhyay and the Principal Acharya was called 'Chancellor' or Mahopadhyay. In the Ramayana period, Vashistha had a large ashram where King Dilip had gone to perform austerities, where Vishwamitra had attained brahmata. Another famous ashram of this type was that of Bharadwaja Muni in Prayag.
Gurukuls were often run by Brahmin householders, both inside and outside the villages or towns. Home scholar and sometimes vampiristi also used to attract learners from far away and keep them in their family and with them for many years (ideal and legislation was for twenty five years). As a reward, the Brahmachari child either offered his services to the Guru and his family, or paid a fee in the event of completion. But gifts with such financial rewards and other items were given as Dakshina form only after initiation and before starting the Guru Vidyadan neither the visitor would ask for anything from the students nor did he return any student from his door. The doors of the Gurukuls were open to all deserving students, rich and poor. His inner life was simple, reverential, devotional and sacrosanct. The disciple learns from his personality and demeanor (staying close) to the guru. The Guru and the disciple had a code of mutual dealings and were fully adhered to.
All types of scriptures and sciences were taught in the Gurukuls till then and upon completion of education, the Guru would take the disciple's examination, initiate and complete the Samvartan rites and send it to his family. While walking, the disciples would give Dakshina according to their power, but the poor students were also freed from it.
The system of Gurukuls continued for a long time in India. The state considered it its duty to make all arrangements for the maintenance of the gurus and gurukuls. When Kautas, the disciple of Varatantu, despite being very poor, urged him to get some Dakshina, the Guru got angry and asked for an impossible amount of fourteen crores gold coins. Kauts considered it right to get that money from King Raghu, and that unfortunate king who donated everything in the yagna decided to attack Kubera to fulfill the demand of that Brahmin child. Regardless of the superhuman put in this story of Raghuvansh, it is a complete reflection of the teaching-related dyotak. There are many such discussions in the Pali literature, from which it is known that kings like Prasenjit donated many villages to those Vednishnat Brahmins who used to run gurukuls for distribution of Vedic education.
This tradition was often continued by most of the rulers and there are descriptions in many inscriptions of the Gurukuls running in the villages donated to the Brahmins of South India and the teachings taught in them. The developed forms of Gurukuls were the universities of Taxila, Nalanda, Vikramashila and Valabhi. It is known from the travelogue of the Jatakas, Hieuwensang and many other references that students from far and wide places used to come to study from the world famous teachers there. Varanasi was the main center of education since time immemorial and till recently there have been hundreds of Gurukuls, Pathshalas and the Annakshetras continued to feed them. The same situation remained in Bengal and Nashik and many cities of South India. In the era of Indian national and cultural renaissance beginning in the 19th century, many gurukuls were established on the tradition of ancient gurukuls and they were important in spreading nationalism. Although the system of ancient gurukuls cannot be re-established in modern terms, their ideals can be adopted with necessary changes.
There were patriarchs in ancient Indian gurukuls. Kalidasa has named Vasistha and Kanva Rishi (Raghuvansh, first, 95 and Abhi Sha, first digits) as the patriarch. The names of some famous and learned patriarchs of the university named Nalanda Mahavihara, established during the Gupta period and attaining their height during the time of Harshavardhana, are known by the description of Hieun Tsang. Buddhist monks Dharmapala and Shilabhadra were prominent among them.
Gurukul used to be the main center of learning teaching in the ancient Indian period, where Brahmachari Vidyarthi, or Satyavasi Parivrajakas from far and wide went to complete their teachings. Those gurukuls were of all types, big or small. But all those gurukuls can neither be called universities in modern terms and neither of them were called patriarchs. According to the memoirs
‘मुनीनां दशसाहस्रं योऽन्नदानादि पोषाणात। अध्यायपति विप्रर्षिरसौ कुलपति: स्मृत:।’
It is clear that the Brahmin sage, who nurtured ten thousand sage students by Annaadi, taught them education, it was called the patriarch. It is clear from the use of the word 'Smritah' quoted above that the patriarch's tradition of eclipse was very old.
The patriarch simply meant the lord of a clan. The family could either be a small and undivided family or a large and many small families of similar origin. The resident student was a member of the great school of the patriarch and the responsibility of his mental and intellectual development was on the vice-chancellor; He was also concerned about the physical health and happiness of the students. Nowadays the term is used to mean 'vice-chancellor' of the university.