Around 800 BC, there was an educational centre at Takshashila (often
called Taxila), a town located in the north-western region of India (in
today’s Pakistan). According to references in the Ramayana, King Bharata
founded the town in the name of his son, Taksha. The site initially began
to develop as a loosely connected group of buildings where learned
persons resided, worked and taught. Over the years, additional buildings
were added; rulers made donations and more scholars migrated there.
Gradually a large campus developed, which became a celebrated seat of
learning in the ancient world.
Not only Indians but also students from as far as Babylonia, Greece, Syria,
Arabia, Phoenicia and China came to study.
68 different streams of knowledge were on the syllabus.
A wide range of subjects were taught by experienced masters: Vedas,
Language, Grammar, Philosophy, Medicine, Surgery, Archery, Politics,
Warfare, Astronomy, Astrology, Accounts, Commerce, Futurology,
Documentation, Occult, Music, Dance, etc.
The minimum entrance age was 16 and there were 10,500 students.
The panel of masters included renowned names like Kautilya (the author
of the “Arthashastra”), Panini (the codifier of Sanskrit into today’s form),
Jivaka (medicine) and Vishnu Sharma (author and compiler of the
When Alexander’s armies came to the Punjab in the 4th century BC,
Takshashila had already developed a reputation as an important seat of
learning. Thus on his return Alexander took many scholars from there with
him to Greece. Being near the north-west frontier of India, Takshashila
had to face the brunt of attacks and invasions from the north and the west.
Thus the Persians, Greeks, Parthians, Shakas and Kushanas laid their
destructive marks on this institution. The final blow, however, came from
the Huns (also the destroyers of the Roman Empire) who razed the
institution in 450 AD When the Chinese traveller Hiuen Tsang visited
Takshashila, the town had lost all its former grandeur and international
TAXILA VS NALANDA
Both Nalanda and Taxila universities were renowned ancient institutions