The spirit of education has always been universal. It has never known the barriers of caste, creed or country. There is no word like foreign in the realm of knowledge. This is the spirit of universality that is imbibed by the students in the university education. Aryan civilization has emphasized the importance of this spirit in clear terms. Caraka says:
The entire world is the teacher to the intelligent and the foe to the unintelligent. Hence, knowing this well thou shouldst listen and act according to the words of instruction of even an unfriendly person, when they are worthy and such as bring fame to you and long life, and are capable of giving you strength and prosperity.
Reasons for Travelling
Travelling was considered an essential part of education. There were plenty of the occasions when travelling became an absolute necessity. They were:
- For joining the universities.
- Accompanying the teacher on his travels during the period of training.
- For acquiring post-graduate learning or special knowledge.
- For attending the medical conferences.
- In the course of practice and missionary tours.
- When called for consultations.
Obstacles in Travelling
With the following hindrances, it was really creditable for those parents and royal and wealthy families who sent their children at the tender age of 16 or thereabouts for the pursuing higher studies at places hundreds of miles away:
- Scanty means of communications of those days
- Travelling to a distant place took months and it was tedious on account of the length of the period taken
- Risky in the absence of adequate protection during the journey
- Full of inconveniences and lack of modern amenities
Duration of Studies
Taxila and Benares were the two main centers of learning in those days and students from all the parts of India went there to acquire higher qualifications just as the students of today go to Europe and America. It was difficult for the boys to return only at the end of the examination which took not less than 5 to 7 years. As narrated in Jatakas, parents considered themselves lucky if they could live to see their sons back home after finishing their studies. There is a vivid description of how the parents became happy and proud with joy when their son returned home from Taxila after graduation.
Travels denoted in Caraka Samhita
The text of Caraka Samhita begins with the description of Bharadwaja volunteering to travel to the abode of Indra for the acquisition of the science of life. This shows that the student was willing to undertake the hazard of adventurous travel for the sake of knowledge.
From the Caraka Samhita, it is evident that the great teacher Punarvasu Atreya was in the habit of touring in the company of his disciples, through the neighboring regions of Pancala, the woodlands of Caitraratha, Pancaganga, the environs of the home of Dhanesa, Kailasa, the northern slopes of the Himalayas, Trivistapa etc, for the sake of healing the sick, the dissemination of the science of Ayurveda and also for the sake of enlarging his own knowledge of the medicinal herbs and plants.
Benefits of Travelling
This shows that during the course of studies, the whole class of Guru and pupils, traveled in the land of the basins of the Indus and the Ganges and the area around the Himalayan mountains. Learned scholars attended these classes, scholars from distant places, Kankayana from Bahlika, the modern Baikh in the north-west, Nimi Videha from the east and Vamaka from Kasi. These tours greatly enhanced the practical knowledge in botany, climatology, constitutional studies of the peoples of the various countries and clinical discussions.
After the completion of the studies, the student was enjoined to travel to give a finishing touch to his training at the university, as theoretical as well as practical knowledge was essential in the medical science.
Though the Aryans may have differentiated themselves from others in other respects and in the general routine of life, in regards to the domain of knowledge they honored equally the Aryan as well as the non-Aryan, provided he possessed knowledge.
Historical records show that a number of students from middle Asia, Persia, Assyria, Greece, China, Tibet, Ceylon etc. visited India either for study or to take part in the assemblies or conferences of learned people. Similarly records are found from which we learn that Indian scholars visited Persia, Greece, Alexandria, Tibet, Burma, Siam, Java, East Indian Archipelago, Ceylon, China etc mostly to disseminate the knowledge they had obtained or to act as missionaries of the science of physical and spiritual health. The spread of Buddhism played a great part in giving the stimulus to the learned scholars to visit various countries as missionaries.
From the available Chinese records, we find that more than 100 Indian scholars of medicine and philosophy visited China beginning from the 1st to the 5th century A. D. In the 5th to the 8th century A. D, Vaidyas were called to Jundishapur and Baghdad for consultations as well as for service.
- The Caraka Samhita published by Shree Gulabkunverba Ayurvedic Society, Jamnagar, India