Even though the term “Holistic Education” is relatively new that seeks to engage all aspects of the learner, including mind, body, and spirit — this is not something new in India and it is there since the Vedic Age ( c. 1500 – c. 500 BCE) in the form of Gurukula based Vedic Education. While “Yoga” has become a mainstream path to wellness among everyday Americans, the practice was once unheard of in the West. The word "Yoga" first appeared in the oldest sacred texts, the Rig Veda, and is derived from the Sanskrit root “Yuj” which means join or unite. Even though “Yoga” started its journey as an ancient Indian science of exercise and healing more than 5000 years ago, the Vedic Gurukulas passed along the “Yoga” from teacher to students through oral tradition and physical practice. Yoga is known as one of the oldest holistic health care systems, not just because of its fundamental healing approach, but also because of its many benefits for physical, mental, and spiritual wellbeing. Vedas were composed in the northern Indian subcontinent, between the end of the urban Indus Valley Civilisation and the second urbanization which began in the central Indo-Gangetic Plain. Since 2000 BCE, many Gurukulas have dotted the landscape of South Asia and attracted students, travelers from all over the ancient world.
In this school of thought, Guru is seen as the one who dispels the darkness of ignorance and Gurukula is the center of learning where the Guru, his family, and the students live under one roof. Parents introduce their children to Guru so that he takes the entire responsibility of instilling Academic, Spiritual, Emotional, and Social Intelligence in children to get them ready for the Universe. The students of Gurukula are oblivious of outer distractions. The system functions on the well-rounded holistic development of a child, enshrining values such as discipline, self-reliance, the right attitude, empathy, creativity, and strong moral beliefs. Great emphasis is laid on the students' mental, cognitive, spiritual, and physical well-being. Gurukula based Vedic Education also complies with philosophies of education of modern time — Perennialism, Essentialism, Progressivism, and Social Reconstructionism, Existentialism, Behaviorism, Constructivism, Conservatism, and Humanism.
Indian National Education Policy 2020 also reflects a similar school of thought – teachers and faculty are considered as the heart of the learning process to create holistic and well-rounded individuals equipped with key 21st-century skills. All aspects of curriculum and pedagogy will be reoriented and revamped to move the education system towards real understanding and learning how to learn - and away from the culture of rote learning as is present today. Paving the way for the country’s first national school board for Vedic education, the governing council of the Maharshi Sandipani Rashtriya Vedavidya Pratishthan (MSRVP) – a fully-funded autonomous body under the HRD Ministry working on the promotion of ‘Veda Vidya’ – has given its in-principle approval to set up a Bhartiya Shiksha Board (BSB) in 2019.