EDUCATION AND CULTURE
THE EDUCATIONAL SYSTEM IN EARLY TIMES MORE OR LESS CO-EXISTED with the religious institutions of the respective religions.
In regard to the Hindu system of education the Dharma-sutras carried on the Vedic traditions and practices of education and codified them into a regular system. Education had its own rituals and ceremonies to emphasize its religious aim and character as aid to self fulfilment and the educating of the individual personality. Education was treated as a matter of growth, a process of life, which was controlled in its totality. The very tenor of life was changed for the pupil who had to live in the home of his guru or teacher for education.
The first educational ceremony was vidyarambha, to be performed by the pupil at the age of 5, by learning the alphabets and offering worship to the appropriate deities. Next followed the ceremony of Upanayana, marking the turning point in the pupil's life. Normally, the pupil was admitted by the teacher without payment of any fee to him. Admission to study depended solely upon the pupil's fitness for it, the student dividing his day's work between minding his lessons and household work of his teacher. There were two classes of teachers: one was Upadhyaya who took teaching as a profession for his livelihood and taught only a portion of the Veda or Vedariga. Another was Acharya who taught the Veda with its Kalpasutras and Upanishads without charging fees. After completing education the pupil used to give the guru some gifts (gurudakshina) such as a farm, cow, horse, grain, clothes, gold, etc., as he could afford.
The ancient educational system evolved its own appropriate methods of study. Kautilya enumerates the following stages of vedic study:- (1) Sushrusha (eagerness to listen to the words of the teacher as they fall from his lips); (2) Shravanam (grasping by the ear the lessons of the teacher); (3) Grahanam (apprehension of the teacher's words); (4) Dharana (retention); (5) Uhapoha (discussion), (6) Vijnana (full knowledge of the meaning conveyed by the teacher's words or lessons); and (8) Tattvabhinivesha (comprehension of the underlying truth of the teacher's lessons). The student learnt a fourth from his Acharya, a fourth by his own intelligence by himself, a fourth from his fellow-pupils, and the remaining fourth in course of time by experience.
The subjects of study in those days comprised, besides the entire vedic literature, Dharmashastras or Smritis, ltihas and Purana; Vaikhanasa-sutra for recluses; heretical shastras, economics and allied subjects, Anvikshiki (dialectics), and Dandaniti or politics. Besides this the education of the prince followed other lines. He had to receive military training relating to the operation of the different elements of the army such as elephants, horses, chariots and weapons of war (praharana).
The Mahabharat gives some interesting information about education. The Brahman teachers gave instruction not only in all academic subjects but also non-academic, like archery, science of war etc. Not only astrology and medicine but agriculture was also taught by the Brahmans. Among subjects of study in addition to the Vedangas, were the training of elephants and horses, the driving of a chariot, engineering etc. According to Mahabharata there were numerous ashramas or hermitages where pupils from distant and different parts of the country gathered for instruction around far-famed teachers.
Interesting information about the educational system is also furnished by typical Buddhist canonical texts as well as Jatakas. The duties of teachers and pupils followed the same lines in Buddhist and Brahmanical systems. The main difference between them lay in the character of the educational institution. In the Brahman system it was the guru-kula or hermitage, based upon individual relationship between the teacher and pupils. In the Buddhist system, education was imparted in the vihara or monastery, giving scope to a collective life and spirit of brotherhood, and where the student came under a common discipline and instruction as also for an individual life of study and meditation.
In regard to the Muslims their higher education was in the hands of men of learning who devoted themselves to the instruction of the youth. Schools were attached to mosques and shrines, and were supported by State grants in cash or land, or by private liberality. Individual instructors of merit were also aided by the State, and landholders and nobles vied with each other in supporting scholars of repute. The course of study in a Muhammedan place of learning included grammar, rhetoric, logic, theology, literature, jurisprudence, metaphysics and science. The classes of learned instructors were replaced by madrasas or colleges of a more modern type founded by the liberality of pious persons. A founder of one such madrasa was Mahmud Gavan, the prime minister of the Bahamanis.
Elementary classes were included in the schools attached to mosques, but ordinary education was, as a rule, imparted at home. Householders of means engaged the services of a teacher to instruct their children in reading, writing and arithmetic. Persian was the medium
of instruction. The schools were known as domestic maktabs, and the teachers were called moulvi sahib or munshi sahib. The profession was followed by both Muhammedans and Hindus. The pupils were bound to respect and do menial service for the moulvi and custom permitted teachers to punish delinquents.
With the establishment of British rule in India the need for western education was felt in the country and this district was no exception to it. The old Gazetteer of Sholapur gives some details of the system of education prevailing in the district from the year 1855-56 to the year 1882-83.
In 1855-56 there were only eleven Government schools, ten of them vernacular and one anglo-vernacular with 804 names on the rolls. In 1865-66 the number of schools was increased to forty-five with 2,377 students. Forty of these schools were vernacular and five anglo-vernacular. In 1875-76 the position was however changed when the number of schools rose to ninety-six and that of pupils to 3,935. In 1882-83 there were 176 schools with 7,914 names on the roll. Compared with 1855-56 the returns for 1882-83 give an increase in the number of schools from eleven to 176 and in the names on the rolls from 804 to 7,914.
In 1869 the first girls' school was opened at Barshi. In the next ten years the number of girls' schools rose to three with 111 pupils. In 1882-83 the number of girls' schools was put at four with 176 names.
In the town of Sholapur there were in 1882-83 ten Government schools with 932 names. Of these, one was a high school, six were Marathi schools five for boys and one for girls. In addition to the Government schools there were, in 1882-83, forty private schools in the town of Sholapur with 1,391 students. The municipality of Sholapur had also opened a Sanskrit school. In 1882-83 the strength of that school was twenty-four pupils. The town-wise strength of Government schools with students was: Barshi, four schools with 323 students; Pandharpur, five schools and 487 students; Karkam, three schools and 86 pupils; Vairag, one school and 80 students; Karmala three schools and 174 pupils; Madha, one school with 112 students; and Sangola, two schools and 146 students.
Exclusive of the eight towns of Sholapur, Barshi, Pandharpur, Karkam, Vairag, Karmala, Madha and Sangola mentioned above, the district of Sholapur was in 1882-83 provided with 154 Government schools or an average of one school for every four inhabited villages. The total number of Government schools was put at 176 during the same period.
Regarding the educational system in the British time, Marathi was taught in 171 schools, English and Marathi in four Government schools
and Hindustani in one school. One of the four English schools was a high school teaching English, Marathi and Sanskrit upto the matriculate standard. Of the 171 Marathi schools, 167 were for boys and four for girls.
The position regarding the number of schools and students (both primary and secondary) since 1893 to 1921 in the district is given in table No. 1.
Table No. 2 shows the strength of the students studying in primary and secondary schools in the then Akkalkot State since 1893 to 1921.