Panchakosha Based Education Model

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Goals of Education

Today we look at the goals of education in a very constrained way. The primary goal seems to be self-development. This self-development is also there to ensure that we can earn a living through it and use it as a mark of status in the society. In Bharatiya traditions, education has been looked at more holistically. Field of education is related to the field of knowledge and hence the primary goal of education has always been to serve knowledge. It is true that the exchange of knowledge happens between two individuals, acharya and shishya. But still the goal is the service of knowledge. This goal is kept above the elements of serving self, society or the nation. The most important thing is the service of knowledge, seva of gyan.

How does somebody do this? It is done through gyan sadhana, through acquisition of knowledge, through protection of knowledge, by upholding knowledge above things like money, power, force or cunningness. This purpose of education needs to be re-established, since we have forgotten this through the years of colonization and foreign invasions.

This also means that we would rely on gyan to find solutions to every problem, every difficult situation whether it is of personal importance or national importance. In the absence of this, we may end up using other means to solve the problems like use of military or use of money power or show of strength or by cleverness. And most of the times this results in short term solutions. Only true knowledge promotes long term solutions. This was the realization of our ancestors and hence in Bharat, serving knowledge was considered the highest ideal. And it became the supreme goal of education.

The second goal of education is to serve the nation, to ensure happiness, prosperity and well being of all people. This is accomplished by upholding dharma and protecting samskriti. धर्मो रक्षति रक्षितः. There are various systems which are setup to ensure that this happens. These systems could be pertaining to societal setup, economics, governance, justice, security etc. These systems may vary based on the nation, contextual to the times we live in and demand of the situations. All these systems are setup in the best possible way while upholding dharma and protecting sanskriti. This is the second goal of education.


The third goal of education is the development of an individual. It is important to note the order of goals. We do not start with the individual and move towards knowledge. We start with serving knowledge, then serving the nation and then get to the individual. This is what makes education holistic.

What do we mean by development of the individual? At the first level, it means that an individual is able to realize the possibilities and the potential he has got. At the second level it would mean to use the realized potential to make progress in life and nurture connections one has with vyashti- व्यष्टि (family and self) , samasti- समष्टि (society), srishti- सृष्टि (environment) and parameshti- परमेष्टि (God). The goal of education is to unfold these possibilities and to manifest the potential. Swami Vivekananda said – “Education is the manifestation of perfection already in men”. The internal perfection is referring to the ‘atmtatva’ (आत्मतत्व) in all of us. In this birth, there is certain potential which we have got to manifest this perfection. Education will achieve its purpose if this manifestation finds expression in its entirety. The pragmatic term which is used to represent this holistic development is panchkoshatmik (पंचकोशात्मिक) development.

Panchkosha foundation of curriculum and pedagogy


Panchkosha refers to 5 layers or Koshas. Lets have a look at what panchkoshatmik (पंचकोशात्मिक) development would look like at each layer:

Annamaya (अन्नमय) kosha

Focusing on building a healthy and fit body through good sleep, play and eating habits. Building good rhythms in the life of the child, both at the Gurukulam and working with the parents to enable good rhythms at home.

Praanmaya (प्राणमय) kosha

Strengthening the inner systems of the body and building on improving the vital energy in the child through yoga, kalari-payattu, kreeda, krishi and shrama. Also systematically work with the child to build good long lasting habits, discipline and rhythm. Working with the children to develop:

  1. स्वाद संयम : discipline of the tongue in eating. Both quantity and quality of food.
  2. वाणी संयम : discipline of the tongue in talking.
  3. अर्थ संयम : understanding value, artha/anartha, cost, need, greed etc.
  4. समय संयम : punctuality, being aware of time, respecting others and our own time, also understanding when to let go of time and relax. समय संयम also brings awareness in children about the time they take to do certain activities like eating, sleeping or any work related activity.

Manomaya (मनोमय) kosha

बन्धुरात्मात्मनस्तस्य येनात्मैवात्मना जित: । अनात्मनस्तु शत्रुत्वे वर्तेतात्मैव शत्रुवत् ॥ ६ ॥

 “For him, who has conquered the mind, the mind is the best of friends; but for one who has failed to do so, his mind will remain the greatest enemy.” Bhagavad Gita 6.6

Thus, it becomes a very important part of upbringing of our children, to guide them, enable them to understand, manage and control their mind. It’s our mind where our six enemies reside: kama (desire), krodha (anger), lobha (greed), mada (arrogance), moha (delusion), and matsarya (jealousy).

Nurturing the Manomaya kosha for students happens through building dhyana, focus, patience, determination, hard work, seva(service), self-confidence, skills and knowledge through:      

·       A carefully designed curriculum and pedagogy which is holistic and focuses on building all the three shaktis of a child- the क्रिया (Hand) शक्ति, इच्छा (heart) शक्ति, ज्ञान (head) शक्ति.

·       Bhagawad Gita parayana & later samvada.

·       Ramayana and Mahabharata stories – At VidyaKshetra both in katha roop and shlokas, students study Ramayana and Mahabharata over 4 years between 11years and 15years of age. Also, as they grow up, they are exposed to regular samvada on these subject matters.

·       Classical art forms like bharatanatyam, hindustani vocal, tabla, flute, kalari-payttu which strengthens the manomaya kosha.

·       Activities that help develop क्रिया (Will) शक्ति – agriculture, go-seva, house building, weaving, stitching, knitting, pottery and carpentry.

·       Experiential learning model where learning goes deep and therefore it allays all fears related to subjects.

·       Learning centered model.

Fear is a big deterrent in the learning process. Therefore, we constantly strive in helping children overcome their fears eg: fear of heights or water or exams etc. Once fear is uprooted, it frees up their mindspace. The education model is so constructed as to help them build self-confidence, internal discipline or self-discipline as against external control.

Vigyaanmaya (विज्ञानमय) kosha

Today, to experience, express and achieve individuality is considered as the best possible outcome of any education and upbringing. On the contrary, in long lasting societies such as ours, interdependence was always considered as a higher virtue. In order to achieve individuality, today’s education, media (movies & print) and books are knowingly and unknowingly designed to sever the connections one has with vyashti- व्यष्टि (family and self) , samasti- समष्टि (society), srishti- सृष्टि (environment) and parameshti- परमेष्टि (God). In the process of reconstructing our lost societies(samaj) and nation(rastra), its dire need is to inculcate the higher virtues of interdependence in our children, help them see the value of connecting with their families, society, environment and spiritual pursuit. Neglecting the connection with any one of these four makes the development partial and sometimes counter productive. To make convenient decisions over the correct one is easy but it takes years of training one’s intellect to make correct decisions as against convenient one. We need to nurture the development of viveka विवेका (Wisdom) in them so that they can make sustainable choices and decisions.

At VidyaKshetra, we work with the children through various means so that they can develop viveka- विवेका.

·       First and foremost by being with such acharyas in the Gurukul environment who are self motivated to learn, share, sincerely practice and serve. Secondly, engaging with parents towards progress in their understanding and practice of such worthy principles of Bharatiyata. Next, by introducing children to different subjects, situations, environment, people and case studies. In their early childhood, the focus is on expanding their mental capacities through kanthastikarana and parayana. Later, exposure to rich stories & samvaada through our itihaasa such as Ramayana & Mahabharata; inquiry, reasoning, pramana, tarka, synthesis, analysis etc in the academic realm also helps build vigyanmaya kosha in children.

·       Academic excellence: Our pursuit is in building academic excellence for children. Students learn science through various experiments in physics, chemistry and biology. Our math and geometry curriculum is founded on the principles of conceptual understanding first and then deriving the formulas, rather than just rote learning them. Math and science is also an excellent tool to work with children to develop scientific & objective thinking, develop skills like analysis, synthesis, logical ability and quantitative ability. These abilities are foundational in developing viveka in our children.

·       Prakriti Parichaya: Since the age of 4 till they are 10 year old, children go on प्रकृति परिचय (nature walk) on weekly basis, to understand nature (the flowers, the insects, weather, seasons, animals, trees, plants, water bodies etc) and by being in nature constantly, automatically they learn to appreciate its different aspects and develop a relationship with it.

Anandmaya (आनंदमय) kosha

At an appropriate age, children are encouraged to look inwards, at the essence and subtleties of what they learn at VidyaKshetra. Children must be taught to see everything, every action, every thought around them in connection with supreme consciousness – “व्यवहार (transaction/action/thought) and परमार्थ (God/Supreme).

Age appropriateness: This refers to the ages when the development of specific kosha starts. This means that we will need to use various subjects, the curriculum and pedagogy in such a way that we are able to address the developmental needs of each kosha at that age. Below figure gives a brief of the ages when the specific kosha starts becoming center stage for that child and what faculties need development at that age. This forms the basis of curriculum and pedagogy designed at VidyaKshetra.