Taksaśilā

From Hindupedia, the Hindu Encyclopedia

By Swami Harshananda

Sometimes transliterated as: Taksasila, TaksaZilA, Taksashilaa


Several Buddhist Jātakas[1] refer to Takṣaśilā as the capital of Gāndhāradeśa. The city was famous for its great university. Students from all the varṇas flocked to its portals to study different arts and sciences. Even princes from well-known dynasties studied here. No one was above the strict discipline observed there.

Geographical Location of Takṣaśilā

Takṣaśilā, the famous center of learning of great antiquity[2] has been identified with the modern Taxila in the Rawalpindi district of Pakistan. It is about 65 kms.[3] to the east of the Indus river.

Takṣaśilā, as per Rāmāyana

According to the Rāmāyana[4] the city was founded by Bharata in the Gāndhāra country for his son Takṣa and came to be known as Takṣapuṣkala.

Takṣaśilā, as per Mahābhārata

Janamejaya[5] is said to have performed the serpent-sacrifice here after conquering it.[6]

Academics at Takṣaśilā

The curriculum included the following subjects:

  1. Vedas
  2. Rituals
  3. Archery
  4. Swordsmanship
  5. Magic
  6. Snake-charming
  7. Recovery of buried treasure
  8. Many other sciences

Admission was difficult. There were no regular syllabus. Expert teachers, with established reputation, taught their students as per their convenience. The students could stay with their teachers or make their own arrangements for boarding and lodging.

Other Specialties

  • Pāṇini,[7] the famous grammarian and Jīvaka, an expert physician and surgeon of his times, were students of this university.
  • Takṣaśilā was also a commercial center visited by traders from different countries.
  • The city was destroyed by the Huṇas in A. D. 460.


References

  1. Jātakas are the several stories depicting the past lives of Buddha.
  2. It is generally assigned to the period 400 B. C.
  3. It is approximately 40 miles.
  4. Uttarakānda, Chapter 101
  5. Janamejaya was the son of the king Parīkṣit and great-grandson of Arjuna.
  6. Mahābhārata, Ādiparva, Chapter 3
  7. He lived in 5th century B. C.
  • The Concise Encyclopedia of Hinduism, Swami Harshananda, Ram Krishna Math, Bangalore