Starting a brand new society one can not expect to have everything fall into place immediately. The goal for me is to make sure that the newly established Hindu Earth is a place of respect and order. A society does not need the constant and daily struggle of power and competition amongst ourselves, we already know the level of life we are expected to live. Hindu earth should simply adopt the Guru-shish tradition and this document is going to make an effort to discuss why and convince the new civilization of Hindu earth this is their best option. There will be a discussion of what Guru-shish is and why it is beneficial to the society although there are some obvious downfalls as well.
Guru-shish is a system in which one must earn and be initiated into the society, if not, they will be known as an outcast. The purpose of the tradition is not to educate the masses as quickly or efficiently as possible, but it is to teach what needs to be known and nothing more. There is a benefit of memorization of prayers that goes behind religion. Memorization is a key component in the Guru-shish tradition and it allows the mind to be occupied with what is attempted to be memorized. Along with memorization of prayers, there will be discipline taught to the teachers which will help the young man later in life. Life should not be focused on what is learned from books as that is not the legacy that will be left with death, it should be on the way we act on this earth.
Caste systems play a major role in determining the beginning age for those being initiated, and that is the way it should be. Castes are put in place for a reason, as some people can contribute more to society and some people are lower in importance. It is our goal to start the higher castes sooner so that they can begin their contribution to your new society as soon as possible, “This initiation was restricted to the first three castes. The age at which it was undergone depended on the caste, being eight in the case of a brahman, eleven for a ksatriya and twelve for a vaisya” (166). Continuing with the discussion of castes, we must address who will be coupled with who when it is time for the marriage of men. Gurus, as well as other graduates, will marry women who are only in their own caste. This will implement the certainty by society that the castes will remain in tact and will not fade out. By doing this we can make sure that we maintain a level of order which may not be present by men coming out of another form of education that is different then Guru-shish in the effect that anyone would be able to marry anyone. Make it be known that young men of any caste can be taught, but they time in which they begin their learning varies with the level of the caste that they are coming from.
There is a ceremony, or initiation, that the young man must go through before they can be considered a party of the tradition. This includes a ceremony which can last anywhere from a few days up until around a year. There will be memorization and citing of prayers as well an introduction to the guru, who will be their teacher for the remainder of the time. From there the Brahman will not only memorize with the guru but will be responsible for finding and cutting wood for the sacred fire. This will not only keep the young men out of trouble but will also teach them discipline and respect. Along with this, they will learn the most important thing to a society, and that is the value of hard work.
As we all know, death is an inevitable part of life. So you all may be wondering what happened when a student is learning under a guru and then that guru passes away. The student must then continue with service to the son of the guru. Not only with the death of the guru does the son gain respect, but this continues further even after the death of the guru. From here the widow of the guru must also be served as if she were the guru herself and be treated with the utmost of respect. This is beneficial to the society because it maintains structure and allows the student to continue with his work as well as continue with his studies and learning his contribution to society and to the respect of the guru does not stop with the life of his teacher.
The teaching is taught by a person older than the student who is selected by the young man’s family and this person is known as a guru. Young girl’s will not go through this process but will be matched up with the graduated young man when all is said and done. This brings many benefits to a newly forming society. The man needs to be the one who understands these morals and brings respect into the household. The matching of the man and the woman after this education allows for equality when it comes to relationships as well as eliminates the competition between men when it comes to finding a mate and starting a relationship. With the understanding that these two people were placed together for a reason and for a purpose, the society will be able to thrive much faster and much more efficiently because now there can be a focus on things that are extremely important to society as opposed to things involving personal marriage. The man understands his position as does the woman, and that would be in every marriage.
Everything in the student’s life will be effected when the begin their education process. They will not only have to respect the guru by doing what they are told but they also must show respect in the form of not showing up the guru. With this the student must always eat less and wear less valuable clothing, the student must do this to prove to the guru that they are willing to take a back seat to the guru‘s higher status and praise the guru for the beautiful clothing and the amount of food the guru eats. This has been noted in Guru-shish writings, “In the presence of his guru let him always eat less, wear a less valuable dress and ornaments” (54). They must always be awake before the guru as well as go to sleep later, this is to show that they are willing to work harder than the guru to make sure life continues as is, and the guru should not be expected to work as hard as their student.
The guru is not the only person that must be respected by the student. The student must also show respect to the guru’s family as if they were the guru himself. From here the student must also show respect to the guru’s guru whenever they are present. The respect will continue to be shown to the people that are above the guru and to the people that are associated with the guru. This not only represents the distinction between the guru and the student, but because they guru usually associates and is related to people of the same caste, it allows for the distinction between the castes to remain in tact, which is always important in a society which strives for division among it’s people.
Literacy may become an issue when discussing this form of education, and this should not be overlooked. An observer of the soiety by the name of Strabo noted this, “They have no knowledge of written letters, and regulate every single thing fro memory, but still they fare happily” (56). With the presence of such memorization and serving of the guru the student’s do not learn things such as writing letters or reading books. This is important in the new society of this Hindu World because the knowledge of such influential people as the guru’s should not be waste on everyone. There is a saying that is discussed when looking at this form of education and that is that it is a waste to sow seeds onto land that will not be able to grow those seeds. This is relevant when it comes to education because not only is it time wasted for the guru to share his knowledge but it is time wasted from the student contributing to society as they will do when they finish up their education. The education is meant to teach the student what is needed to be known, and not what the student desires to know.
Everyday life will be effected by this system in more ways than one. Respect will be one of the main things that will be taught, but along with this will be memorization and hard work. The hard work and respect factor tie into each other as the hard work is usually for the guru. Another main daily task will be cutting down and bundling sticks of wood for the fire, “Outside many hours devoted to study, the students’ principal task was to cut the wood needed for the sacred fire, to chop the logs into equally proportioned faggots, to clean the emplacement with their hands, to water it, and to gather from the hearth the cinders which served to execute pios marks on the face and body” (166). With this comes, as discussed, earlier, the presence of hard work within the society as a whole, which can do nothing but benefit the society.
The age in which a young man’s studies ends varies slightly. It is usually known that the young man has learned everything he needs to know by the time he grows a beard, or his mid-teens, “There was no specific age at which his studies were considered completed; with the kfatriya it was usually at the age of sixteen (but often later than that), since that was the age at which a young man supposedly started growing a beard” (166). In most cases this will leave the young man with anywhere from 5 - 8 years of education, from here they are ready to perform the final duty of cooking their professor a final meal which had all of their guru’s favorites. From here the student would return home to his family where he would respectfully greet everyone and usually marry closely following the end of his education. This represents not only a definitive and uniform end to education, not seen in other forms of education, but it represents one in which respect has been taught and the necessary things to contribute to society have been learned.
It is apparent that the idea of the Guru-shish tradition is unique and is much different than other education styles you may have heard, but it is one that can greatly effect your society, especially one that is as new as yours. Using this education system to help ripen your young men into those who learn only what needs to be learned will keep your society consistent and will, more importantly, keep your caste system in check. A society is not a productive society unless there is order and control, and that is what the Guru-shish principles of education bring to the table.
Individual and Collective Existence.
The Manava Dharmashastra: Gurus and students, c. 100 A.D.