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Qualities Of A Teacher In Ancient India

From Hindupedia, the Hindu Encyclopedia

The texts of Ayurveda laid down what the qualities of a teacher should have. The older literature lists down the following qualities:

  • They desired that the teacher should be of high exceptional abilities both moral and intellectual and should enable the pupils to attain knowledge that would give them fulfillment of life. With this high purpose in view, the teacher was required to be an ideal to the pupils and a constant source of knowledge and inspiration to them. Hence his qualities were placed very high which were within the possibility of the best men of the race.
  • He was also required to know the whole science and even allied sciences and arts thoroughly and exhaustively. Not only that, but he must be able to supplement the texts by his own comments drawn systematically from his imagination and logic.
  • He must possess the necessary powers of expression and exposition and clarity so as to enable the three grades of students namely, highly intelligent, the moderately intelligent as well as the lowest grade of students to understand.
  • The teacher was required to be able either to expand or to abridge the exposition of a subject as the occasion demanded.
  • Afore than all these, the teacher must have high task and un-distracted mind. He should make this his sole task of life and devote all his energies to it.
  • He must have unbounded affection for his disciples and should devote a personal and individual care and thought over every pupil and be his source of inspiration and guidance through life. This spirit is gradually on the wane under the present condition of educational methods and it is very essential that we try to revive this spirit of intimate relation between the teacher and the taught.
  • The teacher may not withhold from his pupils any aspect or recondite doctrine regarding the science that he undertook to teach at the time when the student takes the oath of initiation. To make this a moral and spiritual binding, the teacher had to take vow, on the occasion of taking oath of initiation by the student.
  • "When you on your part keep your vows and if I do not respond fully and impart all my knowledge. I shall become a sinner and my knowledge shall go fruitless." This was the vow taken by teachers at that time.
  • The Smitikaustubha narrates how a teacher was condemned to be a mango tree in his next existence for his failure to impart Vedic knowledge. There is an obvious subtle humor in the retribution imposed upon the teacher who would not give what he possessed to others; as a mango tree he would have to give all fruits to others and retain none for himself.
  • We shall here cite the main qualities required of the teacher as described in Caraka, Śuśruta, Vāgbhatta and Kaśyapa.
  1. Possessed of unblemished knowledge of the science.
  2. Adept in practice
  3. Possessed of skill
  4. Compliant
  5. Possessed of the purity of mind and body
  6. Possessed of a practiced hand
  7. Possessed of full equipment
  8. Of all the senses intact
  9. Possessed of full knowledge of constitution
  10. Prompt in decision
  11. Ripe in wisdom
  12. Free from arrogance
  13. Free from carping
  14. Free from irritability
  15. Possessed of endurance
  16. Possessed of love for the pupils
  17. Devoted to imparting knowledge
  18. Capable of deep insight
  19. Skilled in righteousness, knowledge, science, imagination and practice
  20. Possessed of good qualities
  21. Endowed with pleasant appearance
  22. Given to seeing to the welfare of the pupils
  23. Given to guidance
  24. Skilled in the exposition and interpretation of the science of medicine
  25. Possessing knowledge obtained from the personal contact with a preceptor.
  26. Possessed of good health
  27. Dedicated solely to the task of undistracted mind


  • The Caraka Samhita published by Shree Gulabkunverba Ayurvedic Society, Jamnagar, India


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