"A most wonderful thing was notice in India is that here the forest, not the town, is the fountain head of all its civilization. Wherever in India its earliest and most wonderful manifestations are noticed, we find that men have not come into such close contact as to be rolled or fused into a compact mass. There, trees and plants, rivers and lakes, had ample opportunity to live in close relationship with men.
In these forests, though there was human society, there was enough of open space, of aloofness; there was no jostling. Still it rendered it all the brighter. It is the forest that nurtured the two great ancient ages of India, the Vaidic and the Buddhist. As did the Vaidic Rishis, Buddha also showered his teaching in the many woods of India. The current of civilization that flowed from its forests inundated the whole of India."
Ancient India has a unique system of education. The most popular system was the Monastic orders of education under the supervision of a guru. The sources are mostly literary on ancient education system. There are the Mahabharata, some Dharma sutras, particularly those of Gautama Buddha and Apastamba and the Manu Smriti.
Education in Ancient India began around the 3rd century BC.Caste was an important factor in determing the educational quality and standard of an individual in ancient days. Brahmins were regarded as the most sacred class of all. As a result of this, they were the first to be initiated to the Vedic study. Upanayana was the name of the ceremony by which a learner is taken to his guru to start official education for him. The age-limit for this purpose, ranged between five and sixteen for Brahmins, six and twenty-two for Kshatriyas, eight and twenty-four for Vaishyas.
Education was to be undergone in the house of the guru. The guru was held in utmost esteem and respect. The gurukul system was a prominent and unique feature in ancient India. These were the first residential schools in Indian history. The ancient Indian education achieved a noticeable position in the early Vedic period, beginning in the 1200 B.C. In the Vedic days, the teaching of the four Vedas, the hymns and ritual practices were seen.
There were disparities in imparting education both between men and women and among various religions in many phases of Indian history. However, with the spread of religions like Buddhism and Jainism, education was more liberalized.
Few of the most important universities of India in the ancient times were Taxila, Vikramshila and Nalanda. Taxila University of 7th century BC was famous for medical study. It had a galaxy of eminent teachers such as Panini, the well known grammarian, Kautilya, the minister of Chandragupta Maurya, and Charaka, a medical teacher of repute.
When India progressed from ancient to the medieval period, the system of education witnessed drastic changes. The Muslim invasion and the subsequent Mughal rule resulted in various notable changes in Indian education.