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A pundit and his pupils studying Sanskrit, Agra

A pundit and his pupils studying Sanskrit, Agra

Photographer: Kempson, Simon Matthew Edwin

Medium: Photographic print

Date: 1871

Shelfmark: Photo 1000/46(4698)

Item number: 4698

Length: 15.3

Width: 20.3

Scale: Centimetres

Genre: Photograph

Photograph of a pundit and his pupils studying sanskrit at Agra in Uttar Pradesh from the Archaeological Survey of India Collections: India Office Series (Volume 46), taken in 1871 by Simon Matthew Edwin Kempson. The teacher and his four pupils are seated on a carpet in a courtyard. The photograph's mount is signed by Kempson, who was the Director of Public Instruction for the North-Western Provinces, and it is assumed that he was the photographer, rather than merely the donor. The Imperial Gazetteer of India states, "The advent of British rule found a literature and a system of instruction existing among both Hindus and Muhammadans, in each case closely connected with their religious institutions. [on the Hindu system] To give and to receive instruction is enjoined by the sacred books of the Brahmans, and their ancient sages produced a literature which is deep and subtle and often of great beauty. Schools of learning (tols) were formed in centres containing a considerable high-caste population, and pandits gave instruction in Sanskrit grammar, logic, philosophy and law. The pupils were called the chelas or children of their gurus or teachers, lived with them in a semi-filial relationship, and owed them obedience and respect...Teaching was mainly by word of mouth, and the memory of the pupils was trained to enable them to repeat by heart long passages of the sacred texts...This advanced instruction was strictly confined to youths of the higher classes."

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