Ancient University of Takshashila

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Ancient University of Takshashila


Takshashila was the most famous and recognisable university in the world. It was the first international university. The students came from many countries - Egypt, Iraq, Greece, Syria, Turkey, China and more. The University is located presently at Rawalpindi in part of Greater India (Akhand Bharat).

The first reference of Takshashila University comes from Valmiki Ramayana, where Prabhu Ramachandra of Ayodhya becomes victorious in Gandhara. Prabhu Ramchandra's younger brother Bharata won the country named Gandhara of Gandharva with the help of his maternal grandfather Kekairaj Ashwapati and appointed his two sons as the rulers. The Gandharva country was situated on both banks of the Sindhu (Indus) River[ref] and on its sides, two sons named Taksha and Pushkal of Bharata settled their capitals named Takshashila and Pushkaravati.[ref]

Importance

The city of Takshashila was one of the major cities in Mauryan Empire. Main reasons were location of city and existence of the great University of Takshashila. The viceroy of the North-western provinces had his headquarters at Taxila, from where he seems to have controlled Afganistan, Sindh.[ref]

Education

University of Takshashila was greatly influenced by the Vedic culture and their philosophy. Approximately 10500 students were studied in Takshashila and taught by nearly 2000 teachers. The students came from within India and outside (Egypt, Iraq, Greece, Syria, Turkey and China). Students were admitted to University after passing the examination which was taken by teachers.

There were day-scholars along with resident pupils in the schools of those days. Mention has been made of prince Junha of Banaras keeping house for himself as a student of Takshashila. Some of these day-scholars might be married and regular householders.[ref]

The entry age of University was sixteen years. Students were free to have a choice for selecting any subjects. Takshashila was specialized in the study of medicine (Ayurveda) and surgery, and had taken seven years to complete graduation. Kautilya (minister of Chandragupta Maurya), Charaka (Father of Surgery) and Panini (a well-known grammatical) were also students of Takshashila.

The Buddhist texts mention many stories about the university. Few are given as follows.

Story of Jivika

The story centres round the early education of Jivaka, who was the physician in ordinary to the Magadhan emperor Bindusara (aka. Bimbisara), and was also deputed by the emperor as physician-in-attendance on Buddha, as the best medical expert of the times. He was of obscure origin and the son of a courtesan of Raja griha, a foundling thrown on a dust-heap from which he was rescued by Bindusara's son, prince Abhaya, who brought him up till he repaired to Takshashila to learn an art as a source of livelihood without depending upon the uncertainties of royal patronage. He studied medicine at Takshashila under a world-renowned physician for the prescribed period of 7 years. But before he was given the licence to practise medicine, he had to undergo a sort of practical examination prescribed by his teacher, who directed: Take this spade and seek round about Takshashila a yojana on every side, and whatever plant you see which is not medicinal, bring it to me. After a good deal of botanical investigation, Jivaka could not discover any plant that was devoid of medicinal properties. The teacher was satisfied and gave him a little money with leave to go home and practise as a physician.

Archaeology

The excavations at Taxila also have yielded important hoards of gold and silver jewellery of every sort, utensils of silver and lesser metals and ornaments of inferior metals, all indicating a high level of culture.the ornaments (all sorts of ear-ornament, neck-wear, head ornaments, bracelets, anklets, girdles, etc.) were manufactured indigenously with great skill and minuteness of detail.[ref]

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