India is the land of the oldest civilization in the world with its numerous sets of cults, rituals, customs, and traditions. As the history of this land can be dated back to at least ten thousand years, it’s normal to have lost many of its original traditions. Today, these traditions have either been lost in time or disconnected from our primeval beliefs.
Decline of Old Traditions
Many of the practicing traditions have seen a sharp decline in popularity right after India’s independence. The original history and wisdom of the land had been severely damaged by various outside invaders, as they somewhat forcefully left their own cultural impression on them.
Thus, even if you find a few of these old traditions being practiced in some remote corners of the country, they will certainly have lost their true significance. What we have now is a blend of several different traditions that no longer interconnect.
Simply put, they don’t share the common ancestor root anymore. In the article, I am going to discuss some of these advanced ancient traditions that are either no longer in practice or have already lost their value in modern times.
The Education System Of Gurukul
I often curse myself for selecting geography as a major in college. It had ruined three and a half years of my life without giving any real-life benefits. What it has given me, though, is a useless degree to show off my social status as a graduate.
Five years later, in 2021, when I try to analyze my past decisions, I find major flaws not only in my reasoning skills but in the present-day education system of India too, which somewhat plays a key role in wasting those years.
You would be surprised to hear that there was once an education system in ancient India so advanced that it could even put our most sophisticated and respectful universities to shame. The education system was known as the gurukula. It was a really advanced tradition in the area of teaching students.
It was a place, much like boarding schools in modern times, where children used to get their entire education. It’s said that students during the Vedic age used to get the freedom to select their favorite subject which they preferred studying. The gurukulas used to have a wide variety of subjects to choose from and study.
Arts, commerce, science, astronomy, chemistry, metallurgy, astrophysics, agriculture, medical science, administration, and warfare, to name a few. However, among them, the four Vedas, vedic mathematics, and yoga sutras were compulsory. One of the main priorities of gurukulas was to teach students to live a cultured, disciplined, and righteous life.
The entire expenses of these gurukulas were funded by the kings. Simply put, education was absolutely free in that era. I once read in a book that even children from the royal families used to study alongside kids from other castes.
Every student was considered equal in the glorious ancient era of Bharat (modern day India), at least within the boundaries of gurukula huts, which shows the openness of the people of the time towards getting free basic education.
But despite being such an advanced education system, it had been forcefully demolished by the British Empire to make it obsolete and outdated. Unfortunately, it’s been replaced by the modern education system, which was brought to India in the year 1835 by a so-called Sanskrit scholar, Lord Macaulay.
Science Of Vedic Mathematics
India has always been a repository for great scientists and mathematicians since the ancient vedic era. Even when people from other parts of the world didn’t have any idea about what numbers and science were.
Takshashila (tak-sha-shila), which is believed to be the world’s first university, was built before the early Harappan civilization. Unfortunately, the university was destroyed by the Huns (a nomadic tribe from central Asia) in the 5th century.
Why am I telling you this? Because some facts are very hard to believe. When it comes to acknowledging the supremacy of India’s role in the area of scientific findings, it gets even more dubious. Because, we only know India by what it is today – a developing country struggling to keep up with the already developed western nations.
If you are aware of some basic science then you would know that mastering any field of science without having a solid understanding of mathematics is nearly unachievable.
Take most of the ancient Hindu temples for example, the construction of such complicated structures was impossible without implying serious usage of mathematical equations. Today the ancient techniques of solving math problems are called vedic math. Which has almost lost its glory in the modern age, not because it is no longer applicable in modern science actually, it’s quite the opposite.
Many influential modern mathematicians of our time have actively marketed it as a collection of mere math tricks, nothing else. In simple words, vedic math is an ancient technique of solving the most complicated math problems.
From multiplication, divisibility, complex numbers, squaring, cubing, square roots, cube roots, recurring decimals, auxiliary fractions, and many more that I’ve no knowledge of. You can watch the video above to know more about its usage.
Unluckily this great ancient knowledge of playing with numbers has lost its position and never got the recognition it deserved. A large set of original manuscripts has been lost in time, making it even harder to revive this ancient knowledge of solving math problems.
Oral Tradition Of Preserving History
Indian traditions and cultural intricacy have always fascinated me. At the same time, it also stirs up the confusion of my existing knowledge even more. Indian history, as we know, is very old and ancient. Therefore, it has developed a unique way of preserving our ancient wisdom through folk storytelling.
The sages of that time must have realized the need for storing, recording, and preserving ancient wisdom safely for future generations.
How did they do it?
Well, they abstracted the primary essence of wisdom into cultural traditions to record our history, safe from outside invaders and other natural mishaps. If you’ve noticed the brilliance of our sages, they always knew that any written knowledge can be lost, stolen, forgotten, destroyed, damaged, but oral tradition is much harder to destroy and damage.
This tradition of passing on ancient wisdom to future generations through hearing and reciting age-old oral stories is called shruti & smriti param-para. It has been an impeccable part of our education system since ancient times. It’s much like today’s decentralized data centers.
Whether it was the Vedas, Ramayana, Mahabharata, or folk tales, the entire Indian education system of the time was based on oral tradition. The modern education system simply doesn’t want to acknowledge its value, and often tags the older generations as illiterate since they often rely on fingerprints for document signing.
In my own opinion, that is just a pure ignorance of modern ideology.
The Vedic Judicial System
Have you ever thought about how India’s judicial system worked in ancient times? At least it has never come to my mind before. Surprisingly, when I searched the internet, I couldn’t find any high-quality articles that go into detail about the subject. The Indian judicial system is indeed the oldest in the world.
According to Brihaspati Smriti, which is thought to be one of India’s oldest legal works. There used to be many hierarchies of courts that started with family arbitrators and went all the way to the supreme king.
However, many king-sponsored justice courts used to take most disputes from the states. The jurisdiction of each case used to be determined by the significance of the dispute.
While the most minor disputes were decided by the family arbitrators, the serious ones used to be left aside for the king himself to judge. Surprisingly, no such written law existed in that era as rigid as a modern-day constitution.
How the heck did they make a judgment if there were no written laws available?
Well, the entire judicial system was driven only by moral laws or the concept of dharma. Judges and kings often used references from the Vedas and various ancient texts like Puranas and Smritis to make their final verdict.
Simply put, there was not a single rule book of law written at that time that could be used to make a judgment. If inspected closely, you can find a fundamental flaw in our modern day judicial system. The flaw is that it can only make decisions on the basis of the written law of our the present constitution and can never pass a judgment outside of it.
Kalaripayattu’s Deadly Martial Art
Kalaripayattu (kalari-paya-ttu) is an ancient martial art of the indigenous people of Kerala. It is a small state in southern India and famous for its rich cultural heritage. Experts say Kalaripayattu is the mother of all modern martial arts, including the famous kung-fu.
A man named Bodhidharma was the first to teach this deadly style of martial art to the Buddhist monks of China. He established the original shayoline monesties, and since then, this ancient Indian style of warfare has evolved into what we know as kung-fu.
Since then, kung-fu has slowly evolved into a similar but different martial art, sharing its roots with Kalaripayattu. Although it is the oldest of all the martial arts today, the exact time of its origin is still unknown.
However, historical evidence suggests it came into existence around 5,000 BCE. It was said to be the crudest form of all existing martial arts ever known to humans. But unfortunately, the playing style of today is much diminished as the British were afraid of it and placed a ban on it during the 19th century.
Then, in the 20th century, the British re-allowed the practice of kalaripayattu with some restrictions attached to it. Since then, it’s been done only to promote and preserve the culture of Kerala. Therefore, the kalaripayattu we know today is no way near what it was in its original form, as it was originally developed for actual warfare at that time.