While on a visit to London, Dharampal came across extremely significant archival material – a series of surveys commissioned by the British government in the 19th century to assess the level of indigenous education in India. These surveys were conducted meticulously in various parts of India by the British and were documented systematically.
The findings of these surveys were truly eye-opening. Every village they surveyed had a pathshala. There were a 1,00,000 pathshalas in Bihar and Bengal alone. These pathshalas taught reading and writing and hence, literacy was very high. There were hardly any illiterates. These pathshalas taught languages and epics like Ramayana and Mahabharata among other subjects and Arithmetic was compulsory for everyone. Teachers were highly motivated and devised superior methods of teaching, and hence attendance was very high in these pathshalas.
The most astounding and eye-opening finding, and one that breaks the carefully constructed stereotype that has damaged the country along caste-lines for too long, is the fact that in a large number of these pathshalas, it was the shudras who were in majority and not the higher castes like brahmins or vaishyas. The figures point to the presence of as high as 70% shudras in some schools and 50% shudras in other schools. Similarly, there was a large presence of girls in these pathshalas. All this is recorded in the British surveys, which goes on to prove that at the village level, at the pathshala level, the indigenous Indian education system was intact and flourishing, despite the fact that the major universities had been destroyed by the Islamic invaders.
Sahana Singh elaborates on the astounding facts found in the British Reports on the education system in India in the 1800s in her Srijan Talk on “Educational Heritage Of Ancient India”, a relevant snippet of which is presented here.
To watch the full Srijan Talk by Sahana Singh, click on the following link: https://srijantalks.org/2018/06/18/educational-heritage-of-ancient-india-a-talk-by-sahana-singh/