Education in Medieval India
Medieval period witnessed a radical
transformation with introduction of Muslim education in the Indian
subcontinent. The country was invaded by various foreign rulers and several
traders from different part of the world. The tradesmen and the invaders
brought with them their own cultures and intermingled with the people of the
country. Besides, religion, society and culture, education in medieval India
also experienced a new perspective. The aim of education during Muslim period
(medieval) was the illumination and extension of knowledge. In the eleventh
century, the Muslims rulers established elementary and secondary schools.
Education developed with a fresh aspect during that period as there was an
excellent interaction between Indian and Islamic traditions in all fields of
knowledge like theology, religion, philosophy, fine arts, painting, architecture,
mathematics, medicine and astronomy.
However before the arrival of the
Muslims in India, a developed system of education was already in place. Muslim
rulers promoted urban education by bestowing libraries and literary societies.
They founded primary schools (maktabs) in which students learnt reading,
writing, and basic Islamic prayers. And secondary schools (madrasas) were established to teach advanced language skills.
Several madrasas were set up by the
Sultans, and nobles. The main
objective of these madrasas was to
train and educate the scholars who would become eligible for the civil service.
Iltutmish was the first ruler to establish a madrasas at Delhi during his rule. Gradually many madrasas came into existence.
The system of education in medieval
India was under the control of Ulema. During those days, education was related
to religious training. However, various subjects such as medicine, Arabic
literature, grammar and philosophy were also taught. History states that Arab
and Central Asian people brought Muslim educational models to India in both the
medieval and early modern periods. Women education in India was prevalent
during the medieval period.
Raja Jai Singh of Jaipur encouraged
learning of scientific subjects. Besides, many institutions were started by
private individuals as well. Madrasa of Ghaziuddin in Delhi, and the madrasa of Maulana Sadruddin at
In the later medieval era, the
British came to India and introduced English education. With the coming of the
European missionaries, Western education made firm advances in the country.
Various universities and thousands of colleges were formed and popularity of
The medieval period
saw the founding of many religious mutt or monasteries which also took up the
cause of education. The Ahobila mutt in Srirangam was one among them where is
Sri Ramanuja has made distinctive contribution to the cause of education.
Besides mutts, Jain pallis and Buddhist vihars played a vital role in educating
people where ever the existed. They had large libraries of books in all
branches of learning.