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Education in Karnataka through the ages
by Jyotsna Kamat


It is on the behest of Prof. Srinivas Havanur that I undertook the overwhelming task of researching the system of education in South India through the ages, for a series of lectures at the University of Bombay. I had to study several Sanskrit, Prakrit, and English references also in addition to ancient poetry in Kannada. The sculptures and the inscriptions tend to glorify kings and other patrons, and I had to crosscheck the validity of some of the claims found in them. Much of the foreign accounts on the matter have been assembled through second-hand information and it was difficult to differentiate the truth from hearsay. I have generously utilized the sources from ancient paintings, sculptures, murals and temple archives.

The history of education in Karnataka is very interesting. One can trace its footsteps, starting from the third century B.C. E. Initially education was imparted only orally, but after the development of letters and literature, it took the form of writing. Palm leaves and wooden tools were used for education, which helped spread of the written word. It is important to note that ancient Indians did not consider literacy as the only form of education; self-sufficiency, social service, and spiritual knowledge were the actual goals of developing reading and writing skills. Temples and community centers took the role of schools; on numerous occasions, one's education started in one's own home. We see that in early education as well as in vocational education, the father of the student played a very important role.

Unfortunately, the Europeans who occupied India never saw the beauty in and the value of the Indian educational system. They tried to “reform” Indians by imposing an education system that involved schools, libraries, and teachers on payroll. Lord William Bentinck paved the way for the large-scale introduction of Indians into British ways. Some Indian leaders such as Raja Ram Mohan Roy supported the English education system and it became fashionable for good students to learn English. Most of the leaders who fought for India's freedom were educated in this way. After independence, it was most essential for India to formulate an educational policy that was relevant to India and solved her unique socio-economic problems. Unfortunately India continued the borrowed European system that was prevalent. Although Gandhi declared that the education system should involve vocational training and needed reforming, successive governments promoted a unilateral educational system for India. Education became cheaper and available to everybody, even to those who did not love academics or long for education. The system did not distinguish between children of an artist, a farmer, or a merchant. So the skills that were transferred from generation to generation suffered broken lineages. But the fact that police guard the examination rooms today (in order to prevent cheating) underscores the degeneration of our current education system.

How can the adivasis (indigenous tribespeople) who roam the forest with bows and arrows be restricted to four walls and taught lessons all day long? India's schools and colleges have become factories that produce unemployed graduates. Every day we hear of highly qualified engineers and lawyers who take up dead-end and uninspiring jobs or are jobless. The time has come to rethink the spending of public money for a valueless education that only results in large-scale unemployment.

This research and the publication of this book would not have been possible without the constant encouragement and pressure of Dr. Srinivas Havanur. I am grateful to my late husband Dr. K. L. Kamat for the meticulous preparation of pictures and assistance throughout this research. Thanks are due to Vikas Kamat, and Dr. Hiryoung Kim Kamat who have helped me throughout in writing, recasting and typing the manuscript. I acknowledge the help of Aparna Burde, and Dr. C. Sudhama in proof reading the manuscript. Fellow researchers Drs, G. S. Dixit, and R. Sesha Sastry have offered valuable information and tips during this research. I offer my sincere thanks to my son Vikas for undertaking the publication of this volume in electronic form in Kamat Research Database, and to the Karnataka Sangha of Mumbai for supporting it through a financial grant.

Jyotsna Kamat
August 2002


Full Text of Education in Karnataka through the AgesEducation in Karnataka through the ages
Preface | Buddhist Education | Jaina Education | Palm-leaf Texts | Ghatikasthana | Education of Royalty | Community Education | Vocational Training | Education of Women | Physical Education | Among Muslims | Conclusions


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