Download as Pdf: ANCIENT INDIA IN THE FIELD OF EDUCATION
ANCIENT INDIA IN THE FIELD OF EDUCATION
India has a long and venerable history in the field of higher education. In ancient times, the country was known to have been home to the oldest formal universities in the world.
The world’s oldest recognized university
As early as 700 B.C., there existed a giant University at Takshashila, located in the northwest region of Bharat (India).
Taxila also known as Takshashila, flourished from 600 BC to 500 AD, in the kingdom of Gandhar. This centre of learning was situated about 50 km west of Rawalpindi in Pakistan. 68 subjects were taught at this university and the minimum entry age, ancient texts show, was 16. At one stage, it had 10,500 students including those from Babylon, Greece, Syria, and China. Experienced masters taught the vedas, languages, grammar, philosophy, medicine, surgery, archery, politics, warfare, astronomy, accounts, commerce, documentation, music, dance and other performing arts, futurology, the occult and mystical sciences, complex mathematical calculations. The panel of masters at the university included legendary scholars like Kautilya, Panini, Jivak and Vishnu Sharma. Thus, the concept of a full-fledged university was developed in India.
It was an important Vedic/Hindu and Buddhist center of learning. It was not a well organized university like Nalanda.
There is some disagreement about whether Takshashila can be considered a university. While some consider Taxila to be an early university or centre of higher education, others do not consider it a university in the modern sense.
Students would come to Takshila and take up education in their chosen subject with their teacher directly.
They were supposed to pay for their expenses. However, if a student was unable to pay then he could work for his teacher. The Vedas and the Eighteen Arts, which included skills such as archery, hunting, and elephant lore, were taught, in addition to its law school, medical school, and school of military science.
Takshila was specialized in the study of medicine.
Takshashila is perhaps best known because of its association with Chanakya. The famous treatise Arthashastra (Sanskrit for The knowledge of Economics) by Chanakya, is said to have been composed in Takshashila itself.
Taxila has been listed by the UNESCO as one of the World Heritage Sites.
Did you know that the University at Nalanda functioned from 500 to 1300 AD until destroyed by invaders?
During the 800 years that the university was operational, it attained great fame. Its campus was one mile in length and a half-mile in width. It also had 300 lecture halls with stone benches for sitting; laboratories and other facilities were also available. For example, the university had a towering observatory called the Ambudharaavlehi for astronomical research. It has boasted a massive library called Dharma Gunj or Mountain of Knowledge that was set up in three buildings named Ratna Sagar, Ratnodavi and Ratnayanjak. The entrance examination was very difficult and the pass rate was 3 out of every 10 students. Despite this hurdle, the Chinese traveler, Hien Tsang wrote in his diary that 10,000 students and 200 professors were at Nalanda University.