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Anthony Cerulli
Hobart and William Smith Colleges (Geneva, NY 14456-3301)
The Study of Gurukula: South Indian Traditional Medical Education and Its Classical Texts

The traditional institution of medical education in South India is the gurukula, "family of the teacher." Students in a gurukula study with a teacher (guru), while living with the teacher’s family (kula); they study texts from the classical Sanskrit "canon" of Ayurveda and vernacular classics. This project introduces urgently needed research on the history of the gurukula, which is moribund in South India, save a few locations in Kerala. Looking at two modes of expression in the teacher-student relationship—Sanskrit orality and vernacular commentarial writing—I link the modern history and fate of the gurukula to the promotion of biomedicine during British colonialism. I consider the portrayal of the gurukula in Government Ayurvedic Colleges as archaic and inviable in the globalized medical arena, and the Indian government’s reimagining of classical Ayurveda as an indigenous, precolonial science, which is packaged as the banner of India’s contribution to the global scientific community.

[Grant products]

Project fields:
South Asian History

Fellowships for College Teachers and Independent Scholars

Research Programs

$50,400 (approved)
$50,400 (awarded)

Grant period:
9/1/2012 – 8/31/2013