Ancient India Education, spirituality, Way of Living and Community Building Ecosystem
For thousands of years, India was the world leader in education, research, astronomy, astrology, and spirituality. India had 10k temples and universities like Nalanda, Takshila, Patliputra, Kashi etc for thousands of years. These were extremely well funded, rich and world-class centers for knowledge, education, and research. Millions of people from different regions and economic strata had access to this ecosystem for knowledge and education including foreign student and scholars. During this time India was at its peak as a knowledge based society with the highest literacy rate in the world and accounted for the highest GDP in the world (over 50% until 300 BC and 35% until 1,650 AD).
The education, research, and spiritual services etc. all were free but in return people either worked in these universities and temples or donated handsomely to the temples/universities. So when you donated money to a temple or for your faith or for your god, it was used for so many important things including imparting free education, doing research, performing religious services and rituals, spirituality, building infrastructure for the temples and universities, salaries for Brahmans’/temple and their families, and community services including help for the poor and needy and help for in case of any emergency.
This was thousands of yeas old, time tested, proven and highly effective ecosystem. The overlap of universities and temples was highly scalable, community driven, low cost and grass root level ecosystems that sat on the intersection of education, spirituality, way of life and community building.
This ecosystem was dismantled systematically first by muslim invaders (from 1,100 to 1,650 AD), who demolished or burnt most of these temples and universities and later on by Britishers who broke India’s backbone by breaking this highly effective ecosystem, discontinuing usage of Sanskrit/Hindi and pushing English. Today India is home to 850 million people who are illiterate becasue they could not access this grassroots level, distrubuted and free education, knowledge and spirituality. Today, not knowing English means economically less relevant, if not irrelevant. Today, India account for less than 5% of global GDP vs. 35% even until 1,650 AD.
UK ruled the world because from Oxford to Cambridge, it created some great Universities from 14th to 18th century. USA is world leader because it is home to some of the best Universities in the world that got created in last 180 years ie. Yale, Harvard, Princeton, Brown, U Penn, Stanford etc. Most of these Universities thrive due to heavy charity and donation by its alumni and large corporations.
In next 30-50 years, India can again reclaim its leadership in education, research, spiritually and community building by recreating this age old ecosystem.
Please donate to our temples and brahmans/pandits who impart knowledge and perform religious/spiritual services, enrich and preserve our heritage/traditions and build community. And, finally, looking after poor and looking after animals is not mutually exclusive to you donating to your temples or for your gods and their upkeep & maintenance. Please do your part to recreate what we had as an extremely well run ecosystem in India for thousands of years for education, research, spirituality and community building.
The Author is Sandeep Aggarwal,Founder ShopClues and Droom, Angel Investor, Philanthropist