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Chausath Kalas And How They Are Misunderstood

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By Author: Satjit kumar
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The Chausath Kalas also called the 64 Kalas, are inseparable elements of the educational heritage of India. The knowledge about these fields of expertise in fine arts, vocations, crafts, and trades was imparted to students in the traditional Bharatiya system of education. But, with the introduction of the English system of education in the nineteenth century, the Chausath Kalas were de-emphasized from mainstream education.

Not just that, the British East India Company and Colonial British rulers promoted their British-manufactured products at the cost of the Indian craftsmen. The purchase of items manufactured by many traditional industries was as good as banned. This forced many to lose their livelihoods. Plus, heavy taxation on Indians under the pretext of reform and looting of the Indian economy to siphon wealth to Britain lead to lower purchasing power. This again hurt the domestic industry.

Misconceptions about the Chausath Kalas
Unfortunately, many people have several misconceptions about the 64 Kalas. These myths must be dispelled so that one can appreciate the uniqueness of the ancient Bharatiya education ...
... system of India.

Predominantly, due to the strong influence of the Western education system, many people entertain erroneous views on the Chausat Kalas as 64 fine arts – which is a big distortion of reality. Before going into these details, it would help to have a basic understanding of Chausat Kalas.

• It is mistakenly thought that the Chausath Kalas deal only with fine arts like music, singing, and dancing.
• The presence of individuals skilled in these arts is necessary in any society. So, adding the “Kalas” to the school curriculums will not only help the cause of students but also the Indian economy.
• The ancient system of Kala education enabled the pupils to use the “Kalas” to make an honest living.

Therefore, people wrongly opine that the 64 Kalas shouldn’t be included in regular education. They say that an aspirant interested in making a career in any of these arts can learn them separately. But the fact is that most of the 64 Kalas encompass numerous activities that are not only relevant in day-to-day life but also can help create livelihoods.

Chausath Kalas – a quick summary
The Chausath Kalas not only include fine arts like dancing, singing, music, drama, and sculpting but also carpentry, various construction trades, engineering vocations, animal taming, hospitality, military & administrative, and fashion-related skills including costumes, making and testing of jewelry.

• In the bygone golden era of India, these Kalas were taught to students systematically by master craftsmen in an apprentice model. Rather than giving only theoretical information, the teacher made the students not only observe and learn demonstrated the arts but also practice and participate in them.

• In subsequent stages, pupils themselves started to practice the arts under the guidance of their gurus. With perseverance and dedication, these youngsters became experts in the chosen Kalas that were a source of livelihood.

• It is possible that those who aspired to be government administrators pursued education where an overview of various Kalas was provided. As this was important to assess production and collect taxes from the craftsmen. The ancient Vallabi University in Gujarat was the preferred university for hiring officials for the administrations of various Rajas in India. Promoting artists was the source of increased revenue for kingdoms – Rani Ahalya Bhai of Indore promoted the traditional textile industry and the high-quality textiles manufactured and exported to other kingdoms benefited the treasury of her Kingdom immensely.

• The scope of Chausat Kalas is much wider than that of the Chaturdasa Vidyas. “Chaturdasa” means 14. The Vidyas cover the four Vedas and four Upa-Vedas, and the six Vedangas. The admission process for the ancient universities was tough and only 20% of applicants got admitted. However, the option to pursue a livelihood via mastering Kalas was another path that was less intellectual but more focused on craftsmanship.

• When an individual is adept in any of the Kalas, they can have a successful life irrespective of the place where they live. Gaining competence in any of the Kalas was a significant element of educating a large section of the population in the traditional Indian education system.

Most importantly, the absence of dignity of labor in urban India – could be a direct result of the Macaulay system of education where the Kalas were de-emphasized and classroom education was glorified. It is time to remove our ignorance about our rich heritage of Kala education and correct our viewpoints. The countries with high per capita incomes like the USA, Japan, and Germany have a strong tradition of vocational education that powers their economy.

Living-smartly.com is a website that publishes information on a variety of topics including ancient Indian artisan vocational education 64 kala or chausat kala. Overall, Sanathana dharma and Hindu dharma serves well in focus is on the right conduct including self-discipline, self-control, cultivating wisdom, and common ethics. Living Smartly also has published practical health articles like tomato and spinach side effects and diabetic diet plan for South Indians. Further, it provides smart tips & insights that covers all aspects of daily living such as health, philosophy, social skills, technology and wellness.

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