Education in the Vedic Society
Everyone doesn’t need formal education. 99% of the society needs moral and spiritual education, along with the 3Rs (reading, writing, and arithmetic), and functional skills to be an effective contributor to society. Most people have lived in the Vedic civilization for millions of years without formal education. They just acquired moral and spiritual education, 3Rs, and functional skills.
The Kshatriyas had skills-based education in warfare. The Vaisyas had skills-based education in agriculture, animal husbandry, and trading. The Sudras had skills-based education as carpenters, cobblers, blacksmiths, goldsmiths, weavers, potters, construction workers, and so on. Kshatriyas, Vaisyas, and Sudras constitute 99% of the society. They did not need formal education.
Formal education was limited to the remaining 1% of society called Brahmanas, who acquired advanced knowledge in various subjects, transmitted knowledge from one generation to another, educated whoever was interested and qualified, and guided other classes as needed.
The Vedic system of education doesn’t divide knowledge into dozens of departments. Knowledge is an inverted tree with a single root, many trunks, branches, and leaves. The root is most essential. The trunks, branches, and leaves are progressively less so. However, anyone interested in the knowledge of the leaf, must acquire the knowledge of the root, trunks, and branches prior. This is how experts in one subject could converse with experts in others because they differed in their respectives leaves but shared the root, trunks, and branches. Knowledge could be transmitted horizontally if the vertical process was undertaken in the preliminary stages.
Contrasts to Industrial Education
The modern education system appeared at the dawn of the industrial revolution to displace people from sparsely populated villages to overcrowded cities, from self-reliance to servitude of a bureaucracy, from the life-long pursuit of enlightenment to a 20-year pursuit of standardized classroom degrees, and from honest work to the exploitation of people and nature. Since the industrial system always works to benefit a few elites, and against nature and humanity’s innate needs, therefore, the society following it always inches toward toward self-destruction.
Even as we can be concerned that modern society is like a moth attracted to fire, there is little we can do to stop it. The moths believe that despite dancing around fire, they will never fall into it. Moths do not study the rise and fall of ignorant civilizations. Whatever they do is meant to assuage the fear of extinction and the guilt of not doing anything about it. Even if wise people warn, the moths sideline them. We are hence focused on those who don’t wish to self-immolate.
To the extent that we continue to live in an industrial society, it is important to distinguish the Vedic system from it and critique the flaws of modern thinking. We also have to selectively compete against modern thinking in some areas. These are all accepted parts of the alternative intellectual system. It means neither an obsession with modernity nor an oblivion of it.
The Structure of Formal Education
We aim to implement a system that has worked successfully for millions of years. We divide education into three parts: (a) for the Kshatriya, Vaisya, and Sudra, (b) for the Brahmanas, and (c) for the Rishis. Shabda Academy is for the Brahmanas and Shabda Research is for the Rishis. These are not mass-education programs. They are for a few. However, without these, mass-education programs will only create a primitive, ignorant, backward, and self-destructive society.
We can draw structural similarities between the Vedic and the modern system, such as primary education, high school, bachelors, masters, and research degrees. These help us see how a society with an alternative system is structurally similar to the modern system. Modern society doesn’t have many people with advanced knowledge. Those are only a handful. Even as people with college degrees abound, those who actually put that knowledge to work are few. An alternative system of education understands that most people are not intellectuals. They are warriors, administrators, businessmen, and workers. But without intellectuals, a society loses direction. Our aim is to rejuvenate, nurture, and strengthen that alternative Vedic intellectual system.