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A Pandit teaching the Vedas, Varanasi

A Pandit teaching the Vedas, Varanasi

Photographer: Bromochary, Brajo Gopal

Medium: Photographic print

Date: 1870

Shelfmark: Photo 1000/46(4706)

Item number: 4706

Length: 12.5

Width: 20.9

Scale: Centimetres

Genre: Photograph

Photograph of a Pandit teaching the Vedas at Varanasi (Benares) in Uttar Pradesh from the Archaeological Survey of India Collections: India Office Series (Volume 46), taken in c.1870 by Brajo Gopal Bromochary. This view of a group of pupils, seated around their teacher on a rug, and posed in the act of making various hand gestures was probably shown at one of the European Universal Exhibitions during the nineteenth century. The photograph is inscribed on the album page, 'Taken by the photographer in the service of H.H. the Maharaja of Benares ... Exhibitor H.H. the Maharaja of Benares. After exhibition to be placed at the disposal of H. Exny. the Secretary of State for India.' 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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