Oriental, Conventional and Non-conventional learning programmes in India

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Oriental, Conventional & Non-Conventional Learning programmes in India
Oriental, Conventional & Non-Conventional Learning

Oriental Learning

Oriental learning: The word “Oriental” is derived from the term “Orient”. According to the oxford dictionary, the meaning of “Orient” is “the countries of the East, especially East Asia.” Merriam-Webster dictionary defined as “regions or countries lying to the east of a specified or implied point, the eastern regions or countries of the world.”

The Orient is a historical term for the East, traditionally comprising anything that belongs to the Eastern world. The term oriental is often used to describe anything from the Orient (East Asia).

Before the East India Company embarked on its political career in India, there was no organised education organised and supported by the state. Both Hindus and Muslims had their own indigenous systems, each deeply rooted with the great tradition of learning and scholarship behind them. The study of ancient and traditional education was called Oriental learning by European and Britishers.

Oriental learning Programmes

In ancient India, both formal and informal ways of education system existed. Indigenous education was imparted at home, in temples, pathshalas, tols, chatuspadis and gurukuls. There were people in homes, villages and temples who guided young children in imbibing pious ways of life. Temples were also the centres of learning and took an interest in the promotion of knowledge of our ancient system. Students went to viharas and universities for higher knowledge. Teaching was largely oral, and students remembered and meditated upon what was taught in the class.

With the disappearance of the Gurukula system and the ancient universities like those at Nālandā and Takṣaśilā (Taxila, now in Pakistan) as also the gradual dissolution of the powerful kingdoms by conquests from outside, it became necessary to evolve a method by which the ancient knowledge and wisdom of the East, especially of India, could be revived and preserved.

It is the Western scholars of the 19th and the 20th centuries who were mainly responsible for this revival, though many an Indian scholar also has contributed considerably to it. Further, they started to preserve the ancient knowledge and education system, information, culture, etc. by setting up institutes and libraries.

Oriental Research Institutes

A lot of the ancient wisdom has been buried in the millions of manuscripts lying uncared for, in our temples, Maṭhas (monasteries) and private libraries of scholars or their descendants. The various Oriental Research Institutes in our country have successfully collected quite a lot of them, are taking care of them and are also bringing them out as printed books. Modern science and technology are being put to good use in this noble work. But for the struggle of these institutes, our appalling ignorance of our glorious ancient culture would have been more appalling.

There are around 16 institutes/libraries whose work is consisted chiefly in collecting and collating rare manuscripts in the oriental languages (like Prākṛt and Sanskrit) dealing with religion, philosophy, literature, grammar, arts and sciences, editing them and publishing them with or without translations and explanatory notes.

1. Adyar Library

The Theosophical Society of Madras was started in A. D. 1882 at Adyar (a suburb of Madras) and the Library in A. D. 1886 by Col. Olcott (A. D. 1832-1907). This Library has gradually grown into a research centre in oriental studies.

The Library also has been publishing a journal Brahmavidyā since A. D. 1937. It gives all help and assistance to those scholars who intend to do research and special study.

2. Asiatic Society:

One of the good results of the British conquest of India is the deep interest aroused in Indological studies in the Western intellectuals and scholars. The person who gave an institutional framework to such studies was Sir William Jones (A. D. 1746-94). He did it by starting `The Asiatic Society’ in A. D. 1794.

The name of the Society underwent several changes during the last two centuries, such as the Asiatick Society ( A. D. 1784-1825); The Asiatic Society ( A. D. 1825-1832); The Asiatic Society of Bengal ( A. D. 1832-1935); The Royal Society of Bengal ( A. D. 1936-1951) and the Asiatic Society again since July 1951.

3. Bhaṇḍārkar Oriental Research Institute (Pune)

This institute (often abbreviated as BORI) was started in A. D. 1917 at Pune to commemorate the life and works of R. G. Bhaṇḍārkar (A. D. 1875-1950), a distinguished pioneer of scientific Orientology in India. The Institute is also bringing out periodically, the Annals, containing research papers.

4. Gaṅgānāth Jhā Kendrīya Saṁskṛta Vidyāpīṭha (Allahabad)

Established in A. D. 1934, it was formerly known as G. N. Jhā Research Institute. It was started to perpetuate the memory of Gaṅgānāth Jhā (A. D. 1872-1941) who was an eminent Indologist, a great scholar in Sanskrit and a Vice-chancellor of the Allahabad University for nine years. The Institute was taken over by the Government of India in A. D. 1945, placed under the Rāṣṭrīya Saṁskṛta Saṁsthāna of Delhi and renamed `Gaṅgānāth Jhā Kendrīya Saṁskṛta Vidyāpīṭha’.

5. Kuppusvāmi Śāstrī Research Institute (Madras/Chennai)

This Institute was founded in A. D. 1944 in memory of the great savant S. Kuppusvāmi Śāstrī ( A. D. 1880-1943) in A. D. 1944. It is bringing out a Journal of Oriental Research.

6. Madras Sanskrit College (Chennai)

The College was founded in A. D. 1905 by V. Krishnaswamy Iyer (b. A. D. 1863) and started working from February 1906. The course was for a duration of five years and was modelled on the traditional methods of teaching. The certificate awarded to successful students was for Viśārada degree, the subjects being Vedas, Vedānta, Mīmāṁsā, Smṛtis and some allied subjects.

7. Mythic Society (Bangalore)

An institution devoted to the study and research of religion, philosophy, history, ethnology and culture, the Mythic Society of Bangalore (Karnataka State) was founded in A. D. 1909, primarily at the initiative of F. J. Richards, the then Collector of Civil and Military Station (Cantonment) of Bangalore.

8. Oriental Institute (Baroda)

This institute was first founded at the instance of Sayyāji Rao Gāyakvāḍ (Gaekwad), the third ( A. D. 1875-1939), by the then dewan in A. D. 1893 with a small collection of manuscripts and printed texts. It formed a part of the Sanskrit section of the central library of Baroda. The now-famous Gaekwad’s Oriental Series was started in A. D. 1915. The Kāvyamīmāṁsā of Rājaśekhara (circa A. D. 900) was the first publication.

9. Oriental Manuscripts Library (Trivandrum)

Started in A. D. 1911 as a department of the Government of Travancore, it was amalgamated with the Manuscripts Library of the Kerala University in A. D. 1940.It has a collection of over 50,000 manuscripts in Sanskrit, Malayāḷam and other languages. It is publishing two journals, one in Sanskrit (Journal of the Kerala University Oriental Manuscripts Library) and the other in Malayāḷam (Bhāṣātraimāsikam).

10. Oriental Research Institute (Mysore)

Chamaraja Wodeyar (A. D. 1863-1894) the Mahārāja (king) of the erstwhile Mysore State, who was a staunch admirer and follower of Hindu values of life, founded this Oriental Institute in A. D. 1891. It was then known as ‘Oriental Library’.

Starting with the publication of the Ᾱpastambasūtra (with the commentary of Sudarśanācārya) in A. D. 1893, and the Ᾱdipurāṇa (in Kannaḍa) of the great poet Pampa ( A. D. 941) the institution has so far brought out a very large number of books both in Sanskrit and in Kannaḍa. By A. D. 1979, 127 Sanskrit books had been published.

11. Oriental Research Institute (Tirupati)

The temple town of Tirupati in Andhra Pradesh is not only a place of pilgrimage but also a place of oriental learning. The management of the Tirumala-Tirupati Devasthānams has been spending a part of the surplus funds for the propagation of education and spread of Hindu religion and culture. As a part of this, the Oriental Research Institute of Tirupati came into being in A. D. 1941. When the Sri Venkateshwara University was started in A. D. 1954, Tirupati became its seat. The Institute was handed over to it in A. D. 1956.

12. Saṁskṛta Academy (Madras/Chennai)

The Samskrita Academy of Madras (now Chennai) was started in A. D. 1927 in the Senate Hall of the Old Senate building of the University of Madras by Paṇḍit Madan Mohan Māḷavīya ( A. D. 1861- 1946). The well-known savant Kuppusvāmi Śāstrī [Kuppuswami Sastry ( A. D. 1880-1943)] was chosen as the first president.

13. Saṁskṛta Sāhitya Pariṣat (Calcutta/Kolkata)

This institution owes its origin to a handful of Sanskrit pundits with limited financial resources but endowed with unlimited love and zeal for the rich heritage of the country. Founded in A. D. 1916 in a tiny rented house, it is now housed in its own spacious three-storeyed building. It has now become an advanced centre of Sanskrit learning and research.

14. Government Sanskrit College (Calcutta/Kolkata)

This College was established in A. D. 1824 by the East India Company. The method of teaching Sanskrit was traditional. The subjects taught too were the usual traditional ones like Nyāya and other systems of philosophy, grammar, astrology and āyurveda (health-sciences). When Īśvaracandra Vidyāsāgara ( A. D. 1820-1898) became its principal in 1851, he introduced the Western method of teaching in the college.

15. Sarasvati Mahal Library (Tanjavur)

Known to contain one of the largest and the most important collection of Indian manuscripts in the world, the Sarasvatī Mahal Library of Thanjavur (in Tamil Nadu) was probably established by the end of the 16th Century A. D. Its full official name is “Thanjavur Maharaja Serfoji’s Sarasvati Mahal Library”.

16. Viśveśvarānand Viśvabandhu Institute of Sanskrit and Indological Studies (Hoshiarpur)

Two saṁnyāsins, Svāmis Viśveśvarānanda and Nityānanda, launched a project at Simla (now in Himachal Pradesh) in A. D. 1903 to prepare word-indices for the four principles Vedic Saṁhitās. After the passing away of Svāmi Nityānanda and after changing the place ultimately to Lahore (now in Pakistan) in A.D. 1923, Svāmi Viśveśvarānanda handed over the work and the project to Ᾱcārya Viśvabandhu.

The Institute was originally known as `The Vishveshvaranand Vedic Research Institute’ (at Sadhu Ashram). The Punjab University took it over in A. D. 1965 and renamed it as `TheVishveshvaranand Vishvabandhu Institute of Sanskrit and Indological Studies’ (VVBIS & IS).

For Further Study: Oriental learning Institutes

Conventional Learning (Education) Programmes

Conventional education, also known as back-to-basics, traditional education or customary education, c-learning refers to long-established customs that society traditionally used in schools and colleges or universities. It also refers to conventional education within a brick-and-mortar classroom facility.

Conventional education uses traditional teaching-learning methods in which instructors (teachers) and students (learners) are involved by interacting in a face-to-face manner in the classroom. These instructors initiate discussions in the classroom and focus exclusively on knowing content in textbooks and notes. Students receive the information passively and reiterate the information memorized in the exams.

Characteristics of Convention education

  • It is on-campus education with fixed time
  • Require regular attendance
  • Prescribed curriculum
  • Emphasis more on teaching, not on learning
  • Teacher centred learning
  • Student learn through listening and observation
  • Student assessment through traditional way i.e. written exams.

Non-Conventional Learning Programmes

The Education system in which teaching-learning activities is offered other than the on-campus with fixed time classrooms. For examples, evening learning, distance learning, vocational studies, skill-based courses, online learning, etc.

Non-conventional education is inspired by the P.H. Coombs, and Ahmed who has worked on non-formal education for the poor.

Characteristics of Non-conventional education

  • Learners oriented
  • No fixed curriculum
  • Cost-effective
  • Linked to employment
  • Continuous
  • For improvement of Quality

Target groups of non-conventional education are unemployed youths, the school dropped out, underprivileged group, women and girls, Tribal and Minority population. This type of education is also for literacy programmes.


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