This inspired monograph begins with tracing the traditional cultural grammar of infancy and early childhood from the earliest sources available in Sanskrit and Tamil, two of India’s oldest classical languages. The rites of passage, located in the dynamics of the family, reveal the centrality of the child, while a brief account of contemporary culture brings out the contrasts.
The second part of the book deals specifically with education. An extract from a mathematics lesson of Prince Siddhartha, later Gautama Buddha, opens a window on the amazing mastery of numbers prevalent at that time. The continuity in the complexity of the knowledge shared can be seen in Avadhaanakala, a literary performance style found in contemporary India, which supports the axiom that the past is a constant in the present.
The monograph, an authentic documentation of Indian education in the 18th and 19th centuries, also throws light on the vast spread of schools. Every village had a school. There were also Arabic and Sanskrit colleges, in which Law, Philosophy and Medicine were taught. British colonisation led to the decline of indigenous education, a fact noted by Gandhi, with sadness.
The monograph concludes with the voices of eminent and scholarly witnesses of today, tracing the continuities and the discontinuities of the cultural themes.