Potential Role of Technology and Audit/Accreditation Measures in Revitalizing Yuganukul Gurukul

Future of Education Nov 29, 2020

Education is the basic foundation to sustainable living and it starts with pre-school, nursery, primary, secondary and higher secondary schooling. The ultimate purpose of schooling is viewed as entry-gate to higher education, and rarely as an opportunity to polish innate human values and awaken an individual to his self-potential. Parents across the world are exploring alternative education and interest in Indian Gurukul system is growing, both domestically and internationally.

Our ancient science and so the Gurukul system still hold the value to impart education in modern times, we just ignored it over the last 250-300 years as the history was distorted/manipulated by the invaders to paralyze India’s self-honour, self-dependence and global contributions. However, the challenge is to keep in check that so-called educational enthusiasts don’t start selling Gurukuls as Modern Schools, which might end up creating Gurukulabhas (an illusion of Gurukul) – where sole intention could be to produce educated bunch of students, deprived of the time-tested wisdom of Sanatan Dharma.

The resurgence of Vedic tradition of learning, further catalyzed by the COVID-19 pandemic and the National Education Policy 2020, will create higher demand for Gurukul and for Gurukul Acharya in next 5-10 years. Technology offers invaluable advantage for leveraging expertise of Gurukul scholars for real time or virtual training of new Acharya as well as for moral learning of students in Gurukul, which may not have scholars in certain disciplines. Use of machine learning, augmented and virtual reality may also help to curate personalized teaching pace based on individual student’s learning appetite and characteristics. Technology could also enable offering particular teachings in various Indian and non-Indian languages, allowing higher participation and access to ancient wisdom. Phased learning could also be enabled, where a seeker must accomplish foundational courses in Sanskrut and relevant texts, before embarking specialized subjects. Also Guru-Shishya connect could be facilitated through online portals and seekers could contact relevant Acharya for admission into their Gurukul, if we could provide curated list of Gurukul and what learning traditions or specializations they have to offer.

Given increasing thrust for Sanskrut and Vedic traditions of knowledge, there are numerous websites coming up with indistinguishable content. Ministry of Culture, Government of India has also come up with online portal named Vedic Heritage, sharing wisdom from abstract oral traditions and textual tradition in the form of published books/ manuscripts. The portal aims to collate relevant information, making them accessible online, and to provide a forum for further dialogue. There are many Vedic scholars, individuals and organizations coming up with online portal for preservation and resurgence of Vedic wisdom. Alongside there is always a threat of opportunists and breaking India forces coming up with manipulated collation and translation of Vedic wisdom to create an alternative dialogue and discredit our Indic knowledge traditions.

Hence it is of utmost importance to create consortium of scholars having expertise in various fields of Indic knowledge traditions and to deliberate possible audit/accreditation standards for online content. There may not be a need to audit/accredit each and every website, but at least those which are offering genuine insights into Vedic heritage and give them some rating. More importantly, to identify websites which are propagating falsehood in the name of Vedic wisdom and circulate the list of same. Once the audit/accreditation standards are prepared, even technology can enable searching out such websites, automated content analysis and rating suggestions.

Finally, Modern Gurukul have to be accommodative for seekers of all age groups and ethnicities, as people deprived of their own wisdom may want to learn it at any age. Gurukul and Gurukul Acharya have larger responsibilities of reigniting the tradition of life-long learning and facilitating individuals in realizing their purpose of birth and their journey towards atma-sakshatkar. Technology may have a pivotal role in overcoming any barriers to resurgence of Gurukul tradition, be it language, time or space constraints or ensuring quality learning experience on-campus or online.

“आ नो भद्रा: क्रतवो यन्तु विश्वत:”

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Kandarp Talati

Kandarp is Founder & Director - Promotion of Action Research at Foundation for Diffusion of Innovations. He closely follows policy & innovations in the development sector including health & education.