Takshashila, now known as Taxila, is an important ancient town situated in Pakistan – in the Rawalpindi district of Punjab. Takshashila today is just a shadow of what it was centuries ago. It was the mother of all universities in its time. It wasn’t a real university in today’s sense, but was home to several great teachers.
Here are 6 interesting facts about Takshashila that we bet you didn’t know.
Takshashila was lost in history
Since Takshashila had great cultural and geographical importance, several rulers laid attacks upon Takshashila – including the Greeks, the Kushanas and the Persians. Eventually, by the 5th century, the Huna tribe had completely destroyed Takshashila. This ancient town was rediscovered only in the 19th century by an archaeologist, Sir Alexander Cunningham.
It’s all in the name
It is believed that Takshashila derived its name from Taksa, Bharat’s son. Bharat was the brother of Lord Rama from the Ramayana. Takshashila was considered the capital of Taksa’s kingdom.
No fees, no exams
Takshashila had no structured syllabus or mode of instruction. Several great teachers taught large numbers of students here. One could attend the classroom of any teacher he wished to learn from. And the teachers could teach any number of students, depending upon their liking. No king or ruler ever tried to interfere in the workings of Takshashila.
The students never had to pay any fees as selling knowledge in exchange for something was generally frowned upon. As a result of this policy, even the poor could learn from great masters if they were capable.
There were no structured examinations or grading systems. The teacher would decide when the student’s education was deemed over. A token ‘gurudakshina’ was accepted at the end of education.
Takshashila was largely a hub for post-graduate studies. Students had to complete their primary and secondary education elsewhere before being admitted to Takshashila. 16 years was the minimum age requirement. Not only Indians, but students from nearby countries such as China, Greece and Arabia also flocked to this town of learning.
Everything under the sun
At Takshashila, you could study almost any subject you wanted – be it medicine, surgery, law, hunting, language, music, astrology, philosophy or archery. As many as 68 different streams were offered.
The cunning Chanakya – counsel to Chandragupta Maurya, the master of Ayurveda – Charaka, writer of the Arthashastra – Kautilya and the great contributor to Sanskrit language – Panini; all associated with Takshashila.
Thus Takshashila in those days enjoyed such status and prestige, that modern universities today only dream of.