Takshashila – World’s Oldest University

More than 2700 years back a huge university existed in that ancient India where over 10,500 students from all across the world came for higher studies.

This was the TakshaShila university of ancient India (wrongly spelled as Taxila today). During its times this university was the IIT and MIT of the world, where the students from all across the world used to come to attain specialization in over 64 different fields of study like vedas, grammar, philosophy, ayurveda, agriculture, surgery, politics, archery, warfare, astronomy, commerce, futurology, music, dance, etc. There were even curious subjects like the art of discovering hidden treasure, decrypting encrypted messages, etc

Students were admitted to this university at the age of 16 after they had completed their basic education in their local institutions. Every single graduate who passed out of this university would become a well sought after scholar all across the subcontinent!

Admission into this university was purely based on merit. The students would opt for electives and then would do indepth study and research into their field of choice.

Some of the students who graduated out of the Takshashila university included the great political master Chanakya (also called Kautilya/Vishnugupta who not only authored the world’s finest work till today on political duties, statecraft, economic policies, state intelligence systems, administrative skills and military strategy, called the Artha Shastra which consists of 15 books, but who also guided Chandragupta Maurya as a mentor who founded the Great Mauryan Empire, and also served as the prime minister of the Mauryan Empire!)


Chanakya

In fact Chanakya is known to be the third most famous management consultant in India after Krishna and Shakuni. Krishna is at the top with his successful guidance of the Pandavas in Mahabharatha. Shakuni is at the second position for successfully guiding his camp of Kauravas, without Shakuni’s consultancy, Kaurvas were nothing!

Then comes Chanakya who guided Chandra Gupta Maurya to lay the foundations of the great Mauryan Empire. The Great Indian emperor Ashoka was the Grandson of Chandragupta Maurya. You can read an earlier article of mine on Ashoka here .

Takshashila , the place where this university existed, is currently in Pakistan, and gets its name from Taksha, who was the son of Bharatha (the brother of Rama). Taksha ruled over the kingdom of Taksha Khanda which even extended beyond modern day Uzbekistan, and Tashkent -the present day Uzbek capital also gets its name from Taksha/Takshashila. Click here to see a collection of modern photographs of Takshashila.

Panini was another great product of this university. He was an expert in language and grammar and authored one of the greatest works on grammar ever written called Ashtadhyayi. Ashtadhyayi means eight chapters and is more complicated and at the same time highly technical and specific defining the features and rules of Sanskrit grammar, like how we have modern day books on computer programming languages like C/C++.

Another great student from Takshashila university was Vishnu Sharma , the author of the great book that teaches the art of political science in the form of simple beautiful stories called the Pancha Tantra (meaning the five techniques). It is said that Vishnu Sharma wrote these stories in order to convert three dumb princes of a king into able political administrators within a span of six months!

Charaka, the famous ancient Indian ayurvedic physician was a product of Takshashila university. He originally authored the Charaka Samhita (simplifying an even older ayurvedic work called the Agnivesha Samhita) which along with Sushrutha Samhita, Ashtanga Sangraha and Ashtanga Hrudayam forms the root of modern Ayurveda. Charaka said, A physician who fails to enter the body of a patient with the lamp of knowledge and understanding can never treat diseases .

Jivak was another genius who came out of the Takshashila university. He was a doctor and an expert in pulse reading (understanding the health status of the body by just listening to the person’s pulse!). He studied Ayurveda in Takshashila University for seven years. His areas of specialization was Panchakarma, Marma and Surgery.

Jivak was the personal physician of Buddha and also cured the Nadi Vran of Buddha! He also worked with the great classic beauty Amrapali and ensured that she retained her youthful countenance and performed many amazing operations on her using only Marma points and surgical procedures! He also invented a cure for Filariasis. There are over 15000 handwritten manuscripts of Jivak’s expertise passed on by generations to their children and are still preserved in India even today.

As an ancient sanskrit quote says

स्वगृहे पूज्यते मूर्खः स्वग्रामे पूज्यते प्रभुः।
स्वदेशे पूज्यते राजा विद्वान्सर्वत्र पूज्यते॥

A fool is worshiped at his home.
A chief is worshiped in his town.
A king is worshiped in his kingdom.
A knowledgeable person is worshipped everywhere

Below are two pieces of episodes from the great television serial ‘Chanakya’. The conversation is in ancient Hindi with a 100% Sanskrit touch. You can read a summary of the Chanakya’s life history here . Note that Chanakya lived between 350-283 BCE.

In the first video below Chanakya is lecturing about the duties of a teacher, he himself being a teacher, says that the duty of the teacher is to ensure that the students are aware of their social responsibilities. In times of an external threat to the nation, it is also the duty of the teacher to fight the aggression and invasion making complete use of his military, intelligence and organizational skills. He also says that the safety of the country has a higher priority than the administration, and if it is observed that the political administration of the country is moving against the national interests, then it becomes the duty of a teacher to rebel against the administration and to reinstate a new administration that truly cares for the country and the society.

In the second video below Chanakya rebels against the King Ambi (the one who is seen on the horse) and warns him against allying with the Greek invaders to fight against Indian kingdoms, saying he will have to face dire consequences if he does so. It should be noted that it was Chandragupta Maurya who later under the able guidance of Chanakya wipes out all traces of Greek invasion from India, and builds the mighty Mauryan Empire.

Chanakya explaining national interests and the duties of a teacher and citizens

Chanakya warns the king Ambhi who visits his gurukul (school), against allying with the Greek

Next Article >
Birth date of Rama
  • krishna teja

    I would like to use this data and write a blog in my Companies gallery.. that would spread the word, that’ll satisfy me that I contributed something from myside.. Do you allow me to do that?

    • itzguru

      sure you can, a link back to this article would be appreciated, but not necessary.

  • Jeetender Thakur

    this is pride of Indian civilization, and we all should be proud of our taxila university. We Indian has made world first university, I am proud to be an Indian.

  • SAT GOEL

    I visited Taxila as a child as we lived very close in Rawalpindi. Then again I visited in 1990 on a Rotary exchange programme. There is a wonderful museum at Taxila. Wish that all can visit such places of Indian history.

  • meena

    These are really amazing facts to know. Thanks for posting it. i visited this site to know more about Takshashila b’coz of our great rajiv bhai. after listening to his talk on indian education system

  • Anoop Pullelil

    Well Said !!! Hats Off 2 u !!! Heard somewhere that in Takshashila, they used to teach how to communicate effectively to all living beings. I mean a language to talk to animals, birds etc.. What’s ur say about it ? If yes, is there not even 1% possibility that we can retrieve it ??? Hope to get a reply from you….

    • itzguru

      Yes even I have heard about it. There were 64 specializations taught there and this was one of them. But havent been able to get more info on it. Will definitely post it as and when I come across more details on it.

  • SANDHI

    Dear Shri itzguru,

    I would like to appreciate your efforts to put on such a good article. I am one of the Indians who is looking into India’s past and present and most of the times I do get dissapointed the way our Indians are ignorant about our past. Even I was the same and I never understood why we Indians are like this today. During my research on Indian history I have come across Mr. Gurumuthy’s videos in youtube where he gave a fantastic presentation in IIT bombay and he mentioned a book called “The World Economy – Volume 1: A Millennial Perspective and Volume 2: Historical Statistics”. This book was written by “Angus Madission” a well renowed economist from UK. Only the ‘OECD’ rich countries have funded this project to find out the economic outlook of the past till present. Why they decided to make research on this because in 1950′s a Belgian economist Paul Bairoch of those time have written an article saying that India has got the best economy and his article was only published in 1970′s, which sent a surprising message to the west.

    In 2001 OECD came with a result that India has dominated the world GDP for almost 1800 year if we take from 1AD (Also before AD I have understood).

    Not only that India’s achievements are far greater than anyone can imagine. West can never achieve something like that. There are so many things that are very interesting for me. Vedic mathematics I never came across my childhood education is very surprising to me.

    I doubt that British raj has succeeded in breaking the confidence of we India’s during their rule. But what about our own thoughts, why are we not putting it together and think wisely and take proper decisions. I saw Chanikya serial few days ago, Chandra Gupta Maurya serial too. It was very amazing story, but no one talk about these.

    I would like to ask you a some sincere questions:
    1. HOW CAN WE BUILD A TAKSHASHILA? (Education with free of cost and food for the whole world probably for the sake of human kind)
    2. HOW CAN I LEARN SANSKRIT AND DEVELOP A SOFTWARE PROGRAME LIKE C/C++?..as you explained in your Sanskrit lessons. Very interesting for me.
    3. WHAT CAN I DO TO PROMOTE SANSKRIT, AYURVEDA;….?

    I want to find a way, I am sincerely eager but don’t know where to start from. I need a chanakya to teach me and others.

    I will be waiting for your reply……..!

    • itzguru

      1. To build a Takshashila we need to first modernize our education system, by reintroducing Sanskrit and the science behind it from elementary school level. As these students grow up and set new milestones using their knowledge, it will automatically start attracting interests across the world. We have numerous tools that can enable us in this direction like Sanskrit, Yoga, Vedic Mathematics, Ayurveda, and so on. They can give us answers to lot of our present day problems including pollution, side effects of allopathy, agricultural output and so on.

      2) We need to promote a thorough research into our history, especially archaeology, connecting it with facts in ancient texts, and bring back the knowledge, past history, reasoning into the mainstream education system. This still instill an interest in younger generation to do research and come out with more facts in this direction. It is already happening across the country, but needs to be done on a large scale.

      3) The least we can do is make everybody we know make aware of these facts, and encourage them to share and spread these facts with everybody they know. To have dialogues, discussions, debates on all these subjects. That will have a cascading effect and help spread the knowledge across the country.

      4) Start understanding and using them with your kids, friends, parents whoever is encouraging and interested. You can start using basic Sanskrit words with your kids, and take it to fluent conversation levels later. Replace English with Sanskrit at Indian homes which are increasingly parroting English at home.

      4) Of course we can do even more. In the coming days after the first set of Sanskrit lessons are over, will come out with a detailed plan on how everybody can participate and contribute in their own way in this nation building process. Because we need to streamline the process and energy to make the most out of the time and effort spent on it.

      5) If you are a system programmer, you can study Sanskrit grammar and apply it in developing system software logic – like better compilers, better information storing software, an experimental data query compiler of Sanskrit like SQL and so on. Also in AI and NLP. But all this require dedicated time, effort, core skills, most importantly passion.

  • Prasanna Rajaram

    Can I say that this article details more on students (specifically Chanakya) of Takshashila Univ. than on the Univ. itself?

  • http://twitter.com/bharatjohnson Johnson Thomas K

    We are so grateful to you sir for giving us this great piece of historical information Jai Hind!

  • http://www.facebook.com/swaminathangeethamohan Swaminathangeethamohan Krishna

    The most ancient and scientifically designed universities of the For peaceful co-existance

  • http://www.facebook.com/swaminathangeethamohan Swaminathangeethamohan Krishna

    The most oldest and scientifically designed universities  were from India which opted for peaceful co-existance

  • Abhishekbobade444

    I LOVE MY INDIA

  • http://www.facebook.com/syaasir Yaasir Shahzad

    i am from University of Engineering and Technology Taxila

  • MADHU NAMBURI45

     INDIA IS ALWAYS GREAT

  • Gouruvamshi

    Awesome India Is Great…

  • Anonymous

    Copying is allowed as long as the source is attributed to in the copy. What is wrong in requesting attribution?

    BTW none of the books, magazines, articles, etc published by publishers, media houses etc today allow copying – so do they all have a pathetic attitude then?

  • abhay

    Good information
     

    • Anonymous

      Thanks Abhay

  • Ajay Kumar

    im offended by many known reputed websites does not clearly mentioned it as oldest University. and so discarding the Indian significance in education of Ancient world and also dis-respecting king Asoka the great who develop it.

    • Anonymous

      Well then, that speaks of their reputation or ignorance isnt it :)
      The thing is Ajay, we ourselves are ignorant of our past history and the greatness of our ancients. After all it is we Indians who decide what goes into the textbooks of what we are taught in the schools. How much of these things are really taught to us in our schools. Why do our textbooks highlight so much about Shakespeare and his works when they speak very little about Kalidasa who not only lived long long before Shakespeare but also authored such great works. Why do we call Kalidasa “Shakespeare of India” and not Shakespeare “Kalidasa of the West” ?

  • Amit Tomar

    i really like it , thanks 4 so much information by this article

    • Anonymous

      You are welcome Amit.

  • Pingback: What are the 15 Oldest Colleges in the World? | The .Edu Toolbox

  • Preshit

    really good article, can u giv me information about a good, truthful book (book having correct information)about life of ACHARYA CHANAKYA(an autobiography) in english as well as hindi , as there are many books but many of them hav incorrect information. ur information about panini is all correct but panini was a lady a famous who did outstanding work in sanskrit grammer and always her refference is given when great historic women of INDIA are enlisted.

    • http://www.hitxp.com Gurudev

      I dont think Panini was a lady, can you provide some reference please for that?

    • Anonymous

      I dont think Panini was a lady, can you please provide some reference for that?

    • Dr Shailesh G

      Rishi Panini was the exponent of saNSKRIT GRAMMER who belonged to Magadh and he has many famous books to his name.. he was not a great historical woman!!

  • bhattathiri mulavana

    Indian Vedic contribution is a reservoir of Vibrant Information and Harmonious Creativity. May the Womb of Nature Embrace all with Tranquil Blessings from this day forward. Let this attract one’s attention affecting them Positively. It is a Sanctuary of the Self , a Creative Venue which serves as an Enduring Expression of Lightness, where a peaceful Atmosphere with Sunlight Flows and serene atmosphere prevail.

    In the storm of life we struggle through myriads of stimuli of pressure, stress, and muti-problems that seek for a solution and answer. We are so suppressed by the routine of this every life style that most of us seem helpless. However, if we look closely to ancient techniques we shall discover the magnificent way to understand and realize the ones around us and mostly ourselves. If only we could stop for a moment and allow this to happen. May all beings be happy (Loka Samastha Sukhino Bhavanthu)

    The ancient Hindu philosophy of keepiing mind and body for the well being, has entered the managerial, medical and judicial domain of the world. Today it has found its place as an alternative to the theory of modern management and also as a means to bring back the right path of peace and prosperity for the human beings. Let me bow to Indian Maharishi Veda Vysa with folded hands who helped in removing the impurities of the mind through his writings on Vedas, impurities of speech through his writings on puranas, and impurities of body through his writings on other sacred texts.

    • http://www.hitxp.com Gurudev

      Very well said.

  • Nagesh

    Whats your take on Nalanda University.

    • http://www.hitxp.com Gurudev

      It was another great university of ancient India, though it came into rise much later compared to Takshashila University. It also contained variety of courses ranging from religion to science to logic to metaphysics, and students from places as far away as Korea, Japan, Iran, Indonesia came to study here. It was ransacked by turkish invader Bakhtiyar Khalji who wanted to install Islam by force, his troops set fire to the vast library treasure of the Nalanda University and it is said that the amount of literature was so huge that it kept burning for three months!!

    • sainath

      please listen to

      “भारत का स्वर्णिम अतीत”
      “भारत की विश्व को देन”

      from the link

      http://www.rajivdixit.com/?cat=12

      ofcourse all his other lectures are also mind boggling :)

      Gurudev.. Rajivji was reaaly a genius… he has actually bought forward the details what we (in this “we” you are not included, since you are a bit ahead of rest like me) are trying to find/understand..

      really he was needed to be there for bharat swabhiman to grow.

      • http://www.hitxp.com Gurudev

        Yes sainath, I have listened to all his speeches, very accurate and very well articulated. Its really essential that we make selected speeches like these, like the ones by Swami Vivekananda, all part of the school education. Oh I am no exception either, have learnt a lot from Rajivji’s lectures. India is a great country with the blessings of all its ancient saints and modern sons who lived and showed the path here, the future stands bright in front of the world’s largest youth population, and the choice is here to make by selecting the right path. Wish us all a great success.

  • Prashant

    Tum Bharat Mata Ke Sachche Sapoot Ho.

    • http://www.hitxp.com Gurudev

      Thank you very much Prashant, hum sab Bharat Ma ke sapoot hai :)

  • ashutosh pareek

    excellent work by writer..keep it going…these content need to spread everywhere…
    and thanx for giving me such a valuable information..

  • I=Indian

    And where was this place called Pakistan 2700 years back ???

    • sanjay

      It was in saudi arabia

      • Prasanna Rajaram

        Probably Pakistan did not exist. The land was called Rajputana before the partition… Later named as Pakistan..

  • http://www.urbanpk.com Mohsin Ahmed

    Thats wrong. Takshashila University used to be between Rawalpindi and Taxila in the province of Punjab, Pakistan. I have some of detail images of the ancient site. Visit my Website for details!

  • miks

    These are some great info to let non indians realize wat INDIA has given to this whole world!!!!

    GOOD JOB!

  • qapla

    The Shape of Ancient Thought: Comparative Studies in Greek and Indian Philosophies
    By Thomas McEvilley
    http://video.google.com/videoplay?docid=4553155406381622401&hl=en#
     

    • http://www.hitxp.com Gurudev

      That was a really interesting link. Thanks for that. While most of us think that we will be moving towards a global village in the near future, the fact is that the ancient world was already a global village.

  • Mehul Joshi

    i want to know each and every thing about the “Sushrut” the first plastic sergen of the world and his sergical instrument which are known as sergical instrument of hindus.

  • Mukesh

    MCA course

  • Afzal Hussain

    thank u

  • swamy

    im proud to be an INDIAN,

  • deepak

    Gr8 blog and gr8 information about a gr8 gr8 nation. proud to be an indian. I am really happy i found this. i was searching for the oldest university i.e. taxila university. Mate u have done a good job.

    Keep it up.

    Also the management consultant rating (bhagwan krishna , shakuni) ……

    deepak.

  • vijay

    Excellent Guru, I dont know how I missed this one. We are living the same old story again and again (mughal invasion, british invasion, jihadist invasion, etc). History never seems to stop repeating itself especially in our matrubhoomi. I feel like shedding tears of blood at how people have sold our beloved land. But not to worry, since we all have yet another chance given by history to correct ourselves. Hope that this time we shall be able to create a memorable history for long time to come.

    Chanakya was no wonder able to awaken the spirits of people with his amazing thought-provoking speeches.

  • http://www.hitxp.com/ Gurudev

    Thanks Ramana..
    Yes the hindi in the videos is full of root sanskrit words, even people who know hindi can find it difficult to understand.

  • ramana

    Excellent Article Gurudev.. Keep it up.
    Unfortunately I can not follow videos, not too fluent in Hindi.
    If some one provides transalation that would be great

  • http://www.hitxp.com/ Gurudev

    Havent yet.. will definitely write when get to know more..

  • http://kislaychandra.blogspot.com Kislay

    Great as usual . Have you written anything about Nalanda University or plan to ?

  • Narayanan

    These are some of the historic names from ancient india ( and new name as well)

    Takshashila – now called Taxila
    Lavapuri – Now called Lahore
    Gandhar ( of Gandhari fame) now called Kandhar
    Neel Nadhi (meaning blue) – Nile
    Purushapur – now called Peshawar !

  • http://www.hitxp.com/ Gurudev

    AK,
    Its the responsibility of our generation to reverse the trend :)

    destinationsrik
    I am in total agreement with you. Actually there is a real Alexander today in the form of an external conspiracy.

  • http://srikslib.blogspot.com destinationsrik

    The second video is relavent to even today…

    I mean
    Ambi = Indian Governament,
    Alexander = Destruction to Rama sethu,
    Chanakya = ? (Probably every citizen of this country).

  • AK

    How the borders of India have shrunk from Takshashila in northwest and dhaka in the west to what they are today.
    At this rate, in 2060, we will have some more new neighbours.
    1. Greater Nagalim in NE
    2. Garo-Khasi Autonomous Region
    3. Republic of Eelam in south controlling the Palk Strait and the Sethusamudram Canal