Hinduism is a collection of philosophical and religious traditions that originated in the Indus River valley area more than 3,000 years ago. The body of literature that constitutes Hindu scripture is vast and has evolved over thousands of years. Writings, known collectively as the “Sanatana Dharma,” Sanskrit for "the Eternal Teaching," date back to 1500 to 1000 B.C. These texts deal with behavior and thought in Hindu culture including education and family life.
Hindu scriptures, or Vedas, teach that Vidya, or education, is required to achieve order and peace in the family and society. Rig Veda teaches that one can understand the universe only through the absorption of knowledge. The best method of education and enlightenment is reading and self-study. This Veda exhorts parents to nurture and educate children and grandchildren well.
The Upanishads were written after 900 B.C. and build on Vedic philosophy. Śiksāvalli, or the portion of the Taittiriya Upanishad that deals with teaching and learning, is focused on the teacher’s affirmation that he will train the student in what is righteousness and true. The verses continue with discussions of offspring and reproduction. It includes care of the baby before birth and even prenatal education. It instructs the family to transmit knowledge and wisdom to the following generations so that the culture may advance.
According to the Katha Upanishad, education is the ultimate consequence of the ancient Indian theory of knowledge. It is a crucial part of the Hindu plan of life and values and is the source of all enlightenment and proper behavior. It is “Sa vidya ya vimuktaye” or "that which liberates us."
The Bhagavad Gita, part of the epic poem, the Mahabharata, discusses the difficulties in deciding what is right among possible actions. One section is told as a parable of a father teaching his highly educated son what knowledge is truly important: knowledge of one’s true self. The Gita shows that a parent’s first duty is to shape the character of the child.
- Photos.com/Photos.com/Getty Images