Qualities of a Teacher, Qualities of a Student

Most people today consider Ayurveda to be an unscientific and regressive system. This attitude has grown because most people today are completely disconnected with their own heritage of the past or just never had one. Also, the teachings from the system of Ayurveda are not actually taught, the ancient texts are not read or systemically taught from but rather modern texts that have simplified and left out the deeper knowledge of the whole system. It has been turned into lists of what to do and what not to do. Little is taught and known about the history of Ayurvedic development and the minds and thoughts of men who created the system, among the people today.  Learning in ancient India was more about the knowledge of the self, of self-awareness. Learning in America about Yoga and Ayurveda is not much more than taking a two week or two month course and walking out with a certificate to teach.

Charaka (in the main ancient text of Ayurveda) observes “weapons, learning and water are wholly dependent for their merits and demerits on their holder. It is understanding that should first of all be rendered immaculate and worthy of holding the knowledge of medicine”.  A teacher was supposed to be skillful, upright, pure, a knower of human nature, free from self-conceit, envy and irascibility, endowed with fortitude and affection towards his pupils and able to clear their doubts. Today in America, in Ayurveda and Yoga, due to the naivety of Westerners in this arena, if your are Indian you can get away with giving yourselves a title without the training or integrity behind it and make up a false lineage to go with it. There is no system of checks and balances.

The students of Charaka’s time had to prove in a six month probation period that they possessed the qualities of being peaceable, noble, persevering, intelligent, devoted to truth, modest and gentle; free of egotism, irritability, addictions of any kind, covetousness and sloth; pure, skilful, courteous, single minded, obedient and devoted to his mentor.  The attitude towards education and learning 3000 years back was more true and real learning and education than what there is today with two week certifications and lack of any depth of knowledge being taught. Although the discipline to be learnt is medicine, the greater stress is always on individual inquiry, which is regarded as true learning. The oath of initiation of the students went like this “there is no limit at all to the science of life, the entire world is the teacher to the intelligent and the foe to the unintelligent”. Debate was encouraged in these schools to create inquiring minds, willing to rebel against dogma. There is even sections in the texts of explanation on how to carry out a successful debate. As Charaka says “any success achieved without the exercise of reason is indeed success resulting from chance”. Any invention produced under a culture of such thoughts and attitude can only be wholesome in nature.


What if we could get that type of integrity in our society today?



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