Formal education was mainly for males. In the early years, the father taught his sons, mainly in preparation for becoming priests. It began when a boy was five years old, with the learning of the Sanskrit alphabet. At home, he learned simple reading and writing and basic arithmetic.
At the age of eight, he went to live at the house of his teacher, a guru, to be be taught mainly on an individual basis. At the age of ten, he began studying the Vedas, one of which had to be memorized. There was much stress placed upon the relationship between student and teacher. The student was under strict discipline. He was committed to sexual chastity. His education could last for another fifteen years.
Education was similar to the Brahman in numerous ways and was carried on in a monastery. The main difference was that the Vedas were not used. In their place, the Tripitaka and other Buddhist literature were used. Instruction was basically oral and based on a knowledge of Buddhist scriptures. Other subjects studied were logic, metaphysics, and philosophy. Grammar and debate were stressed.
There was a close relationship between teacher and student. All students were required to observe celebacy and poverrty. On graduation, the monk could teach others. Education of girls and was not usually considered, although there were monasteries which provided good education for them.
(This page was updated in December 2012.)