A Hindu Primer
Shukavak N. Dasa
Copyright © 2007 Sanskrit Religions Institute
All rights reserved.
Hindu Education: Guru Kula and Bal Vihar
The ancient system of Hindu education was called Guru Kula, which literally means “the family or home of the teacher.” In the days before government mandated schools in India, children would attend the home of a local brahmana teacher for education. In the tradition social system called Varnashrama Dharma the brahmanas would play the role of teachers and the children of the other classes would go to these brahmanas for schooling. Sometimes these schools would be associated with a local temple or ashrama and the the curriculum would involved a mixture of religious and practical education. Today the system of Guru Kula has been replaced by modern schools systems and the only Guru Kulas that still exist function as private religious schools connected to a religious organization.
Today Hindu religious education is mainly provided in small groups called Bal Vihars. A Bal Vihar is the Hindu equivalent of a Christian Sunday School. In other words, it is religious education provided by a Hindu Temple or some one organization or even by a group of parents on a weekly, bi-weekly or monthly basis. Sometimes other names are employed such as Bal Vikas instead of Bal Vihar for the same thing.