Military Education in Medieval India

From Vedic times to modern India, a number of changes happened. With the Muslim invaders came the Islamic system of learning in Maktabs and Madarsas. After the Muslims, came the British. They brought the English method of teaching and organising schools and colleges. While both, the Muslims and the British encouraged higher education, the concept of educating soldiers and officers of the military also changed with time.

The British set up specialised academies for training officers. Training centres for soldiers were established at different places. Teaching in military studies became different for soldiers and officers. It was no longer a common academy for both the soldier and the officer. For officers Indian Military Academy was established and for soldiers Regimental centres at various locations were opened.

Changes came when Muslims invaded India and established Mughal rule. Major changes were:

  • Use of fire arms
  • Use of artillery or guns
  • Use of horse cavalry and archers on horse back
  • Changes in tactics in the battlefield

Because of these changes, the subjects changed. With a change in subjects the teaching methods and places of training also changed. For example, in olden times any open field could become a school. With the advent of firearms and guns, large areas were identified to train soldiers where specialised facilities like firing ranges were established.

Why were large areas required for training in artillery guns? The need for safety from firearms and the longer distance to which guns could aim and fire, were the reasons for the requirement of large areas.

Stages of Training in Armies

In the medieval period, training of the army consisted of three parts:

Training for Combat

Combat training was organised for individual soldiers as well as for the army units. This training also included games that helped in combat. The army had to be alert and ready at all times for war. Therefore, their training was continuous and it was part of daily routine for the soldiers to train for battle. The basic training for combat consisted of the following types of training:

Sports and Competitions

Armies the world over believe that sports is a very useful form of training a soldier for battle. The influence of sport was crucial for instilling a warrior ethic and team spirit. The virtues displayed on the sporting field were also the ideal virtues of a soldier. The games and competitions organised were:

  • Armed and Unarmed combat
  • Archery; horse racing and chariot racing
  • Boxing, Wrestling and swimming competitions
  • Hunting

Benefits of Games

  • Build essential virtues of Strength, Courage, Chivalry and fair play
  • Instill fighting spirit and ability to win
  • Mental Fitness - Quick Thinking
  • Build Camaraderie among Troops and Officers


A well organised kingdom had good practices of keeping its army trained and ready for war always. It was also necessary to carry out inspections to check their state of readiness. Inspections by the King, Minister in charge of army and the Senapathy were conducted periodically.

During such inspections, some sort of drill and manoeuvres by the army units were shown to the inspecting officer. The commanding officers were also expected to show proficiency in basic military skills like horsemanship, archery and musketry, and their troops were supposed to practice with their weapons regularly.