University of ancient Taxila

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University of ancient Taxila
Ruins of Bhir Mound archaeological site.
University of ancient Taxila is located in South Asia
University of ancient Taxila
Shown within South Asia
LocationTaxila, Gandhara (in present-day  Pakistan)
RegionIndian subcontinent
Coordinates33°44′N 72°47′E / 33.74°N 72.78°E / 33.74; 72.78Coordinates: 33°44′N 72°47′E / 33.74°N 72.78°E / 33.74; 72.78
TypeCentre of learning
Part ofAncient institutions of learning in Indian subcontinent
Foundedc. 10th century BCE
Abandonedc. 5th century CE
Site notes
OwnershipGovernment of Pakistan
Public accessYes

The University of ancient Takshashila was an ancient Brahmanical university located in the city of Takṣaśilā (Sanskrit: तक्षशिला) (Taxila in modern-day Pakistan) near the bank of the Indus River.[1][2] According to the Ramayana, the city was founded by Bharata, the son of Kaikeyi, and younger half brother of Rama.[3] Taxila was one of the leading seats of higher learning in ancient India.[4] It became the capital of the Achaemenid territories in northwestern Indian subcontinent following the Achaemenid conquest of the Indus Valley around 540 BCE. Taxila was at the crossroad of the main trade roads of Asia, and was probably populated by Persians, Greeks, Scythians and many ethnicities coming from the various parts of the Achaemenid Empire.[5][6][7]


The earliest remains of the site goes back to 10th century BC.[3] Many Buddhist and Hindu scholars have studied in Taxila.


By some accounts, the university of ancient Taxila is considered to be one of the earliest universities in the world.[8][9][10][11][12] Others do not consider it a university in the modern sense, in that the teachers living there may not have had official membership of particular colleges, [13][14][15] in contrast to the later Nalanda university in Bihar.[15][16][17] The highly systemized Vedic model of learning helped establish large institutions such as Nalanda, Taxila and Vikramashila.[18][19] These universities not only taught Vedic texts and the ritual but also the different theoretical disciplines associated with the limbs or the sciences of the Vedas, which included disciplines such as linguistics, law, astronomy and reasoning.[19]

The university was particularly renowned for science, especially medicine, and the arts, but both religious and secular subjects were taught, and even subject such as archery or astrology.[20] Many Jataka of early Buddhist literature mention students attending the university.[20] Taxila university was instrumental in encouraging nationalistic values in the Indian sub-continent region against the incessant attacks from western nomads and kingdoms.[citation needed] Chanakya is considered to be at the fore front for promoting awareness of the natives in the Ambi, Kandhar and western provinces of India against the Barbaric ruling of Alexander's successors, who utilized native prisoners of war for their expansion missions and using them as sacrificial troops during warfare.[citation needed]

The role of Taxila university as a center of knowledge continued under the Maurya Empire and Greek rule (Indo-Greeks) in the 3rd and 2nd centuries BCE.[20]

The destruction of Toramana in the 5th century CE seem to have put an end to the activities of the university.[21]


Important professors that are said to have taught at university of Taxila include;

  • Pāṇini, the great 5th century BCE Indian grammarian, is said to have been born in Shalatula near Attock, not far from Taxila. This region was then part of the Gandhara satrapy of the Achaemenid Empire, but the ethnicity in his name or the way of his life shows that he was of Indian origin.[22][23][24] He is likely to have been teaching at Taxila university.
  • Chanakya, the influential Prime Minister of the founder of the Mauryan Empire, Chandragupta Maurya, is also said to have been teaching at Taxila.[25]
  • Kumāralāta, according to the 3rd century Chinese Buddhist monk and traveller Yuan Chwang, Kumāralāta, the founder of Sautrāntika school was also an excellent teacher at Taxila university and attracted students from as far as China. [26]


Students with their oblong palettes used for writing, in the Greco-Buddhist art of Gandhara. The young Buddha accompanying them to go to school is also part of the complete scene. 2nd-3rd century CE, Victoria and Albert Museum.
Bhir Mound, excavation of ancient buildings.

According to Stephen Batchelor, the Buddha may have been influenced by the experiences and knowledge acquired by some of his closest followers in the foreign capital of Taxila.[27] Several contemporaries, and close followers, of the Buddha are said to have studied in Taxila, namely:

  • King Pasenadi of Kosala, a close friend of the Buddha,
  • Bandhula, the commander of Pasedani's army
  • Aṅgulimāla, a close follower of the Buddha. A Buddhist story about Aṅgulimāla (also called Ahiṃsaka, and later a close follower of Buddha), relates how his parents sent him to Taxila to study under a well-known teacher. There he excels in his studies and becomes the teacher's favorite student, enjoying special privileges in his teacher's house. However, the other students grow jealous of Ahiṃsaka's speedy progress and seek to turn his master against him.[28] To that end, they make it seem as though Ahiṃsaka has seduced the master's wife.[29]
  • Jivaka, court doctor at Rajagriha and personal doctor of the Buddha.[30]
  • Charaka, the Indian "father of medicine" and one of the leading authorities in Ayurveda, is also said to have studied at Taxila, and practiced there.[31][32]
  • Chandragupta Maurya, Buddhist literature states that Chandragupta Maurya, the future founder of the Mauryan Empire, though born near Patna (Bihar) in Magadha, was taken by Chanakya for his training and education to Taxila, and had him educated there in "all the sciences and arts" of the period, including military sciences. There he studied for eight years.[33] The Greek and Hindu texts also state that Kautilya (Chanakya) was a native of the northwest Indian subcontinent, and Chandragupta was his resident student for eight years.[34][35] These accounts match Plutarch's assertion that Alexander the Great met with the young Chandragupta while campaigning in the Punjab.[36][37]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Das, Sarat Chandra (1899). Journal of the Buddhist Text & Research Society. Part IV. Vol. VII. Calcutta: The Buddhist Text Society. p. 19.
  2. ^ Lowe, Roy; Yasuhara, Yoshihito (2016-10-04). The Origins of Higher Learning: Knowledge networks and the early development of universities. Routledge. ISBN 978-1-317-54326-8.
  3. ^ a b Marshall, John (2013-06-20). A Guide to Taxila. Cambridge University Press. p. 10. ISBN 978-1-107-61544-1.
  4. ^ Chauhan, S. S. (1989). Education of Exceptional Children. Indus Publishing. ISBN 978-81-85182-25-4.
  5. ^ Lowe, Roy; Yasuhara, Yoshihito (2016). The Origins of Higher Learning: Knowledge networks and the early development of universities. Routledge. p. 62. ISBN 9781317543268.
  6. ^ Le, Huu Phuoc (2010). Buddhist Architecture. Grafikol. p. 50. ISBN 9780984404308.
  7. ^ Batchelor, Stephen (2010). Confession of a Buddhist Atheist. Random House Publishing Group. pp. 255–256. ISBN 9781588369840.
  8. ^ Needham, Joseph (2004). Within the Four Seas: The Dialogue of East and West. Routledge. ISBN 978-0-415-36166-8.
  9. ^ Kulke & Rothermund 2004:

    "In the early centuries the centre of Buddhist scholarship was the University of Taxila."

  10. ^ Balakrishnan Muniapan, Junaid M. Shaikh (2007), "Lessons in corporate governance from Kautilya's Arthashastra in ancient India", World Review of Entrepreneurship, Management and Sustainable Development 3 (1):

    "Kautilya was also a professor of Politics and Economics at Taxila University. Taxila University is one of the oldest known universities in the world and it was the chief learning centre in ancient India."

  11. ^ Mookerji 1989, p. 478:

    "Thus the various centres of learning in different parts of the country became affiliated, as it were, to the educational centre, or the central university, of Taxila which exercised a kind of intellectual suzerainty over the wide world of letters in India."

  12. ^ Mookerji 1989, p. 479:

    "This shows that Taxila was a seat not of elementary, but higher, education, of colleges or a university as distinguished from schools."

  13. ^ Altekar 1965, p. 109:

    "It may be observed at the outset that Taxila did not possess any colleges or university in the modern sense of the term."

  14. ^ F. W. Thomas (1944), in Marshall (1951), p. 81:

    "We come across several Jātaka stories about the students and teachers of Takshaśilā, but not a single episode even remotely suggests that the different 'world renowned' teachers living in that city belonged to a particular college or university of the modern type."

  15. ^ a b "Taxila". Encyclopædia Britannica. 2007. Archived from the original on 22 December 2007:

    "Taxila, besides being a provincial seat, was also a centre of learning. It was not a university town with lecture halls and residential quarters, such as have been found at Nalanda in the Indian state of Bihar."

  16. ^ "Nalanda" (2007). Encarta.
  17. ^ "Nalanda" (2001). Columbia Encyclopedia.
  18. ^ "History | District Nalanda, Government of Bihar | India". Retrieved 2022-05-01.
  19. ^ a b Frazier, Jessica; Flood, Gavin (2011-06-30). The Continuum Companion to Hindu Studies. A&C Black. p. 34. ISBN 978-0-8264-9966-0.
  20. ^ a b c Marshall, John (2013). A Guide to Taxila. Cambridge University Press. pp. 23–24. ISBN 9781107615441.
  21. ^ The Pearson CSAT Manual 2011. Pearson Education India. p. 439/ HC.23. ISBN 9788131758304.
  22. ^ Scharfe, Hartmut (1977). Grammatical Literature. Otto Harrassowitz Verlag. p. 89. ISBN 9783447017060.
  23. ^ Bakshi, S. R. (2005). Early Aryans to Swaraj. Sarup & Sons. p. 47. ISBN 9788176255370.
  24. ^ Ninan, M. M. (2008). The Development of Hinduism. Madathil Mammen Ninan. p. 97. ISBN 9781438228204.
  25. ^ Schlichtmann, Klaus (2016). A Peace History of India: From Ashoka Maurya to Mahatma Gandhi. Vij Books India Pvt Ltd. p. 29. ISBN 9789385563522.
  26. ^ Watters, Thomas (1904-01-01). On Yuan Chwang's travels in India, 629-645 A.D. Dalcassian Publishing Company.
  27. ^ Batchelor, Stephen (2010). Confession of a Buddhist Atheist. Random House Publishing Group. p. 255. ISBN 9781588369840.
  28. ^ Malalasekera 1960.
  29. ^ Wilson 2016, p. 286.
  30. ^ Batchelor, Stephen (2010). Confession of a Buddhist Atheist. Random House Publishing Group. p. 256. ISBN 9781588369840.
  31. ^ Lowe, Roy; Yasuhara, Yoshihito (2016). The Origins of Higher Learning: Knowledge networks and the early development of universities. Routledge. p. PT62. ISBN 9781317543268.
  32. ^ Gupta, Subhadra Sen (2009). Ashoka. Penguin UK. p. PT27. ISBN 9788184758078.
  33. ^ Mookerji 1988, pp. 15–18.
  34. ^ Mookerji 1988, pp. 18–23, 53–54, 140–141.
  35. ^ Modelski, George (1964). "Kautilya: Foreign Policy and International System in the Ancient Hindu World". American Political Science Review. Cambridge University Press (CUP). 58 (3): 549–560. doi:10.2307/1953131. JSTOR 1953131. S2CID 144135587.
  36. ^ Mookerji, Radhakumud (1966). Chandragupta Maurya and His Times. Motilal Banarsidass. pp. 16–17. ISBN 9788120804050.
  37. ^ "Sandrocottus, when he was a stripling, saw Alexander himself, and we are told that he often said in later times that Alexander narrowly missed making himself master of the country, since its king was hated and despised on account of his baseness and low birth". Plutarch 62-4 "Plutarch, Alexander, chapter 1, section 1".