Different types of Gurukuls in Ancient India
Initially, the gurukul system had the advantage of being egalitarian and fair. The teacher there observed the children's attitude, aptitude and ability, and educated them accordingly. As this was done without the interference from any external source (parents can be very pushy !), the educators were able to match the individual's temperament with the trade they learned.
Later, however, this was corrupted and educators were no longer independent - rather, they were paid to teach a particular skill to a particular group of students. (Sound familiar ?) I am not just making this up either - there is written evidence for this - namely in the MahaBharata.
At the time when Drona and Drupada were students, the system was still fair and open. Princes and paupers went to the same Gurukul to learn life skills. There, different children learned different skills and the gurukul was able to develop the skills of a particular child to its max potential. As a result, a brahmin, was taught Danurveda and became highly skilled in the martial arts. Impressed by his skills, a prince sought his friendship, as he knew he would need such men in his army. Sadly, he forgot his friendship and an animosity took root which culminated in the great Bharat war.
In the same generation, from an open system that Drona attended, he later came to run a gurukul that was elitist and exclusive. He was paid to teach the Kuru princes and hence refused to teach any other student, no matter how talented. The fact that Akalaya sought Drona's tutelage, shows the system was changing so fast, most people could not comprehend that education could be restricted in this way ! Education was supposed to be open to all and this was a rare, new experiment in education whereby a teacher was "paid" to teach a specified group of students only !!!
Parashurama's gurukul was also elitist and hence flawed. By being totally closed, and yet so well reputed, it encouraged sincere seekers to twist the truth or, lie, in order to get in. Karna's entry was surely not the first, and I am sure not the last into this sort of Gurukul.
From an egalitarian Gurukul of Sandipani, came Lord Krishna and Sudama. Theirs was a friendship that lasted the test of time. Krishna's knowledge culminated in the great Bhagvad Gina. This great scripture still continues to inspire, so many centuries after its first recitation.
From the Gurukul of Parshuram, came Karna, who sacrificed everything, including ethics, at the alter of his misplaced idea of "friendship". He was unable to save himself with the knowledge gained at his Gurukul, as it was gained with deceit. It cost him his life !
From the Gurukul of Drona, came the great war, annihilating an empire as old as time ! Harvest of hate is bitter indeed, all those connected with this Gurukul, died a painful, acrimonious death.
You have to be careful how you are educated, who is educating you and with what motives in their mind.
Our Purans testify as to what can happen if we are not careful !
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