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  • Ariba Anwar

Exploring Pre-European Educational Visions of the Indian Sub-Continent


Pedagogies of educational transitions reflect stages of social evolution; they also help to analyze the relationship between transformations in the material world and changes in the ideation realm. Educational reforms played a profound role in the construction of the understanding of various social identities throughout the history of the Sub-continent. The educational reforms introduced during the second Industrial revolution changed the education vision of the region to a considerable extend. Thus, in order to explore the history of the Sub-continent, it is important to examine the socio-linguistic historical trends of the region that once were the integral aspect of the educational system. Madrasas (Muslim educational institutions) in this regard are key aspects of traditional scholastic development. And, as far as Muslim Indians' educational vision is concerned; two movements in the form of Madrasa Rahimiya of Delhi and Firangi Mahal of Lucknow provide an in-depth study on the educational system that was pre-European in nature.


The development of Madras flourished during the Mughal rule in India. Firangi Mahal as stated above is one such seminary, that was established during Aurangzeb's reign. Mulla Nizamuddin had a notable contribution to the development of the Firangi Mahal curriculum, commonly known as Dars-i-Nizami. The syllabus focused on subjects such as mathematics, logic, grammar and syntax, jurisprudence (along-side religious training). Not only Muslims, but Hindus also used to study there. Dars-i- Nizami, thus emphasized equally the development of rational thought and spiritual growth of human beings. Firangi Mahal’s teaching influenced various parts of India, including Madras, Hyderabad, and Rampur. Many hundreds of the books authored and published here in Firangi Mahal were also studied in different parts of the Middle East. The traditional educational outlook provides a vision that focused on the exchange of knowledge across the civilizations, thus great emphasis had been laid on the promotion of peace through the establishment of scholarly networks. And, it worth noting that Arabic and Persian were the main languages of the instruction. Thus, with the advent of colonial reforms not only educational system was transformed, but the spirit of oriental languages was also turned down with the dawn of English.

Rabindranath Tagore's educational vision provides another important aspect of the intellectual history of the Sub-continent. He used to say, “The highest education is that which does not merely give us information but makes our life in harmony with all existence.” This quote manifests that education is about creating harmonious relations between all that exists - Rabindranath's quote, also implies that preservation of nature is a vital element of education. And, he was of the opinion that a peaceful world exists when the correlation between man and nature will be established. His visions of the peaceful world make so much sense in 2020 - where the world has witnessed that the well-being of humans is depended upon the well-being of nature. Another, most striking element of Indian educational history is spirituality. Great emphasis had been laid on the spiritual and moral training of the students. Along-side, creating a peaceful existence, he purposed that self-realization is a crucial goal of education. Spirituality provides a way to self-realization.


What makes his educational philosophy profound is that he paid so much importance to nature. He drafted a curriculum that focused on nature; thus, as per his educational vision, classes should be held in the open air under the trees. Moreover, aesthetic development of senses should be given as much importance the intellectual growth, meaning activities, such as music, arts, drama, dance should be considered as core parts of the educational curriculum.


Moreover, he emphasized that the mother should be used as the medium of instruction for the child’s education. Here, Frantz Fanon’s concept of double-conscious can be applied to understand the relation of colonial changes and their impacts on post-colonial subjects – double conscious can be conceptualized as the cultural, societal, mental confusion Africans Americans faced due to having a dual identity. Taking the concept further, Homi k Bhabha has explained a concept of mimicry – mimicry takes place when colonized nations imitate and adopt the culture of the colonizers. And, now coming back to modern-day India and Pakistan, most of the citizens whilst adopting the British or Western culture often feel alienated with their own roots, and often go through the situation that may be similar to having dual-consciousness. Therefore, understanding history and heritage can help to mitigate the identity-crisis to a considerable, and understanding all cultures and history will make the world diverse.


References:

Educational Thoughts of Rabindranath Tagore’s and It’s relevance in present education -Prosanta Kumar Mondal

The Ulma of Farangi Mahall and Islamic Culture in South Asia – Francis Robinson

Rabindranath Tagore on education - https://infed.org/mobi/rabindranath-tagore-on-education/#:~:text=As%20an%20alternative%20to%20the,from%20his%20own%20learning%20experiences.

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