Taxila | Taxila University was established by which ruler?
The importance of education in ancient Indian history can be understood from Taxila, India’s oldest university. Taxila was a famous center of education in ancient India. It was situated about thirty two kilometers away in Rawalpindi town of western Punjab.
It is said about Takshashila that ‘Taksha’, the younger son of Rama’s younger brother Bharat, had established this city (Takshashila) and he was its first ruler.
In ancient times it was known as a famous center of civilization. From the five hundred years of AD to the 6th century AD, the city progressed under its dominance. The city had strategic importance as it was situated on the border. As a result, due to the relentless foreign invasions on India, this city became a victim of destruction.
|Taxila University-photo credit wikipedia
Legends about Taxila
There is a legend about Taxila that Taxila was settled by ‘Nagraj Takshak’. The Pandava king Parikshit had died due to Takshak’s poisoning or bite. So Parikshit’s son Janmejaya attacked Takshak to avenge his father’s murder. After defeating Nagraj Takshak, Janamejaya merged his kingdom and Takshashila into his kingdom and performed a huge ‘yagya’ of serpents. From this it appears that Taxila was a very ancient city.
Who founded the Takshashila University
As we have already mentioned that only we get historical facts regarding the establishment of Taxila city and this university. There is a lack of concrete information about which ruler or person this university was established.
Taxila was the oldest and most famous center of Buddha’s education. Its establishment is said to be in the 6th century BC. Further evidence suggests (historical) that by the 5th century it was famous all over the world as a major center of education. Taxila is known for Chanakya (Prime Minister of Chandragupta Maurya and author of the Arthashastra text). Chanakya wrote his book ‘Arthashastra’ in Taxila itself and Maurya emperor Chandragupta and famous doctor of Ayurveda ‘Charak’ also received education from Taxila itself. It was located in the present-day Gandhara region, in what is today the city of Rawalpindi, Pakistan. About 68 subjects were taught here. There is a lack of information about its founder. Normally a student took admission in Taxila at the age of 16 years.
When Fahien or Faxian (traveller from China) came to Taxila in the beginning of the fifth century, he found Buddhism flourishing here. When the Chinese traveler Huan Tsang arrived in Taxila in the seventh century, he saw the downtrodden Taxila here. At present it is a tehsil of Rawalpindi district of Punjab province. This is the sixth century BC. One of the 16 Mahajanapadas used to be the capital of Gandhara.
Nature of Education at Taxila University
There were no Takshashila universities, colleges, well-organized schools or paid teachers, as in modern times, neither there was a fixed curriculum nor a fixed education period. Apart from this, there was no examination system or degrees.
The education here was provided by great pundits and scholars of various disciplines and arts. Students used to study while staying at the homes of these scholars. It is described in many ancient texts that up to a hundred students used to study with each Acharya (teacher). The description of up to five hundred students is found in the Jataka texts.
How did the students get admission in Taxila?
The age of the student was fixed at 16 years to enter this university. Here he studied for six to eight years. Poor students worked hard during the day and studied at night.
There are also instances when the students used to promise to pay the fee at the end of education, the Acharya used to keep the fee paying students like sons at his house.
The Guru personally paid attention to the student. It was essential for the students to be of high character, to have a simple life.
Subjects Taught in Taxila
Literary, religious and secular education of all kinds was provided in Taxila. Mainly, the three Vedas and craftsmanship were studied. Apart from this, special attention was given to grammar, archery, palmistry, mantra-science, surgery and medicine. Each Acharya was free to decide his own course and duration of education.
After completing the education, the students used to go for excursions to study and study the arts and crafts and to get knowledge of the customs, living habits etc. of different regions.
Taxila was famous all over the world
In the early centuries of AD, Taxila had established a special place in the field of education. Students from far-flung areas of India and cities like Rajgriha, Varanasi, Mithila used to come here to study. Apart from India, students from abroad also used to come here for studies. The students here and the students who became graduates considered themselves proud.
Famous Scholars of Taxila
Acharya Kashyap Mathang who preached Buddhism in China was also a student of Taxila.
Vishnugupta (Chanakya / Kautilya), a great scholar of politics and diplomacy, studied here and then became an Acharya here. He composed the famous treatise Arthashastra. He was also the Prime Minister of Sagandragupta Maurya.
- The grammar master Panini was the teacher here.
- Kaushal king Prasenjit also took education here.
- Taxila was famous for the education of Ayurveda and medicine. Surgery was of special importance here.
- The famous surgeon ‘Kumarjeeva’ was a student of Taxila.
- The famous Rajavaidya ‘Jivaka’ (in the court of Emperor Bimbisara) who had treated Gautam Buddha was also a student of this place.
It is clear that Taxila was the other center of education of politics and weaponry. There were 103 princes of different states studying in an armory school. There were special schools of Ayurveda and Jurisprudence. The graduates of Taxila include the names of some of the most famous men of Indian history. Panini, the best grammarian of Sanskrit literature, was a resident of Shalatur in Gandhara and it is not impossible, he got education in Taxila only. Some famous people contemporaries of Gautam Buddha had also been students of the same place, among which the main three classmates were Kosalaraj Prasenjit, Malla Sardar Bandhul and Lichchavi Mahali; The chief physician and surgeon Angulimala and the Brahmin robber Angulimala. The description of the immense knowledge and skill of the living beings related to Ayurveda obtained from there is found from Vinayapitak. Chanakya was a graduate and teacher there and the most famous of his disciples was Chandragupta Maurya, who founded the Maurya Empire with his guru.
How did Taxila fall?
After the fall of the Maurya Empire, Buddhism also started to decline in India. Brahmanism strengthened its identity during the time of Pushyamitra Shunga. Hence the importance of Taxila decreased. Pushyamitra Shunga provided royal shelter to Brahmanism and executed many Buddhist monks. Thus this famous center of learning went on ruin.