Stunning ancient history of Takshashila University

Brief Introduction

In this article , you will experience the most detailed and the most valuable history of world’s oldest Takshashila university which was once the great center of learning for Hindus as well as for Buddhist . According to some sources , it is dated back to at least 7th century BCE or much before that of ancient India and in 5th century AD , it was destroyed by the White Huns invader .

It is located 32 km northwest of Rawalpindi  in Pakistan and on the eastern Bank of the Indus river in Punjab . It is also listed in the UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1980 .

The university was the most ancient and the world’s first Hindu university where students from different varnas and creeds were welcomed with great enthusiasm for higher education. As the popularity of Buddhism was on its peak during 5th or 6th century BCE ,the Takshashila university started to include it as a major subject in its university .

Taxila was the first most ancient university of India which was much older than the Nalanda university which was built by Kumargupta in the 5th century AD . It is unknown to all till now ” who built this great center of learning university ” ? Chinese traveller Huien Tsang ( student of Nalanda university ) also mentioned about Takshashila university in their writing but not in larger context .

Takshashila university was famous for its great learning center which provided the students of Greece, China, Arabia and Babylonia to come here and got blessed with the astounding knowledge of Puranas ,medicine ,  Itihas  ,music ,dance , Arithmetic ,military art , law , poetry ,accountancy , agriculture ,cattle breeding , Commerce ,archery ,surgery ,divination , snake charming , paintings etc.

There is mention of Takshashila University in the Buddhist Jataka tales from where we can extract great information of its luxuriance and astonishing framework of knowledge but here too there is no mention of the exact date when it came into existence . 

The great Panini ( the father of Sanskrit Grammar ) , Jivaka ( great physician ) and Chanakya ( the author of Arthashashtra ) were the students of Takshashila university .

During the 5th century BCE ,  there is mention of Takshashila in the Achaemenid Empire of Persia .

The richness and the remarkable learning in the University of Takshila made it widely known to the world. People from Persia , Arab , China and so on , used to come here and gain knowledge and spread the knowledge that they gained here to their respective countries . 

University of Takshashila was once considered to be the intellectual capital of the ancient India.The age of the students who studied there was mostly from 16-20 years .

In Sanskrit it is  transcribed as Takshashila and in Greek as taxila

Takshashila has its connection with Indian epics like Ramayan and Mahabharata . According to the Epic Ramayana , the city of taxila was originally called Gandharva desh which was won by Bharat , the step-brother of Ram, and handed it over to his son Taksha .

On the name of Bharat’s son , Taksha , the Gandharva desh popularly became taxila where great university came into existence during 7th century BCE.

 Taksha is considered to be the synonym of Nagas . And from here, the Naagvansha came into existence . 

In Mahabharata too ,  there is mention of a king named Takshak who must be from the lineage of Taksha or Nagvanshi  .

Taksha was the one who had bitten Parikshit (  grandson of Arjun ) . Later , Janmayjaye ,son of Parikshit took the revenge of his father’s death by performing Sarpa- satra ( serpent sacrifice ) . 

And this is how the  territory received the name Takshashila from their ancestors . 

There is no exact date mentioned when Takshashila university was built and who built it through any of the references .

 Nalanda and Takshashila university were not the same in respect of their educational properties . Takshashila was a Hindu learning center which was fundamentally focus on Vedas , Itihasa and other 64 subjects while Nalanda was focus on Mahayana of Buddhism and then other multiple subjects which were less and more same as takshashila’s learning .

Alexander ,  a Macedonian King , invaded India (326 BC) when Takshila was the most prosperous ,wealthy  and well governed territory of Bharat.

Ruins of Takshashila University 

The excavation of ancient Takshashila university started in 1863 by  a British archaeologist  “General Cunningham” . However it was a difficult task for him to excavate Takshashila as there were very few left to chronicle . 

Many concerned pieces of evidence and antiquities which could have provided us a deep understanding of Takshila University were ruined by locals for their Personal benefits . 

During his excavation between 1863-1874 , he found a remarkable size of temples which tell us the history of the taxila but these antiquities and evidence were taken up by local dealers for personal benefits .

After continuing his Archaeological survey , he found numerous stupas , viharas and inscriptions which were coated with gold plate . 

13 most amazing facts of Takshashila university

One of the most valuable information of ancient Takshashila university lies into its education structure i.e. vedic education .

Every gurukul and university of the ancient India used to follow the Guru Shishya Parampara .Such ideal and cultural relationship between student and teacher couldn’t be seen in the long history of any country other than India . 

And this Guru Shishya Parampara tradition could be seen in the administration of the university . 

  • Many great Aacharyas and Gurus who had profound expertise in different subjects used to reside there to teach the students . Each of the guru and acharya of the university was an institution in itself
  • Not any kind of external interference  by any of the kings was seen in the university . The university was completely independent . 
  • There was no rigid regulation of fixing the duration of courses of any subjects because it was believed by the university that a student should not be binded with the courses because each student has different capabilities and it’s not possible for every student to gain the knowledge in the same duration in which other students have gained .
  • Studies of Sankhya , Nyaya (logic ) , Vaisheshika ( atomic theory of creation ) , Puranas ,  medicine ,  itihas  ( history ) ,  music ,  dance , Arithmetic ,  military art , law , poetry ,accountancy , agriculture ,cattle breeding , Commerce ,archery ,surgery ,divination , snake charming , paintings , art of finding treasures and more , were the parts of the academic center .
  • Vedas and Silpa ( craft ) were the fundamental  parts of the studies . Chanting of the Vedas with the right pronunciation was the main motive of the gurus and acharyas . Vedas included the study of its auxiliary sciences and these were : Correct pronunciation of sutras, guide to perform rituals , rites and sacrifices , Grammar ,prosody ( poetic rhythm ) , etymology .
  • A student was not allowed to proceed further unless the previous work/task/subject was mastered by him . So , there was not any kind of examination taken by the university because it was a ludicrous thing for them as the examination didn’t have the right criteria to judge anyone’s capabilities . 
  • A student could leave the university only when the gurus or acharays were satisfied with the student’s expertise . 
  • At the time of leaving the university ,students  didn’t receive any kind of certification from the  university because it was believed by the university that it’s a filthy and desecrated idea to use certificates to earn bread . 
  • Normally students took 8 years to have the expertise in a specific field but as I have discussed above that it totally depends on the students capability .

  • University also welcomed those additional curricula which had left a substantial impression in the society. Like : Greek
  • Takshashila in the 6th century BCE was conquered by the Persian who came with Kharoshtri script . This script  got the space in the curricula of the university . 
  • In the 2nd century it was conquered by the indo -bactrians who were the successor of Greek culture . From many sources it has been confirmed that many people then, living in Takshashila understood the Greek language
  • Buddhism which was born around 6th century BCE also got a space in the university . It mainly happened because of the students coming from the eastern parts of the country were very significant .

Finance

All the financial requirements were fulfilled by the society to the university. There was no system of taking charges for the admission and free boarding and lodging were Provided to all the students . 

According to the science of Vedas  and Hindu scriptures ,  knowledge is too Sacred to compare or barter with money . Knowledge should be provided freely to everyone who wants to uplift his/her consciousness level .

People of the society understood it very well that knowledge can’t be traded through money and they had high integrity and high gratitude for the gurus and Acharyas who brought up the students with great values .  so they never hesitate to contribute to the University . 

World Famous students of the university

Taxila University has given gems to the world . Many students of this university were regarded as the pioneers of many great Shastra . 

Chanakya , Panini and Jivaka were the great students of the takshashila university .They later became the great enlightened beings in the fields of economist , sanskrit Vyakrana and medicine respectively .

  • The first name which comes to mind whenever the Takshashila University is mentioned is the name of Chanakya ( Kautaliya ). 

Chanakya was the one who had written Arthashastra which was widely discussed and implement in the society for the betterment of the people. He was the one who had made Chandragupta Maurya a king .

  • The second name is Panini who was the greatest grammarian of Sanskrit language (Sanskrit Vyakaran)
  • Another prominent name is Jivaka who was a great physician . He had mastered the medicine and surgery field . He was inimitable in his field .  Jivaka was the one who cured great king Bimbisara’s fistula disease  .Giving new life to the king ,he was appointed as a physician to his court .

         Another great example was when he cured the jaundice of the king , Pradyota of Ujjaiyani . 

Jivaka’s one famous story which stuns everyone is when a rich merchant was Suffering from head disease ,he then cut through the skin of the head then , drew apart the flesh of the brain on each side of the incision and pulled out worms from the wound and then stitched it accurately and applied the medicine . The whole  procedure went perfectly fine .

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Destruction of Takshashila University

Takshashila university was completely destroyed by White Huns who not just took the possession of Kushan’s Kingdom but also overthrew the Gupta Empire in 455 AD .

The destruction of Takshashila University was one of the most barbaric acts done by White Huns ( invaders ) in India .

In  455 AD , white Huns invaded India in ever increasing numbers having swords in their hands and setting fire wherever they went . Their cruel act of destroying Takshila University could never be forgotten by Indians .

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