Dictionary Of Hindu Religion | Locations
This is very well known that there were two learning centers in ancient India - Takshashilaa and Naalandaa. Where they have gone? The theory that Hoon destroyed Tashashilaa in the 5th century is a theory with no legs – and a case without evidence. So … then what could have happened to them? Takshashilaa was the world's forst universty. It was established in Takshashilaa, India in 700 BC. More than 10,500 students from all over the world studied more than 60 subjects. The University of Naalandaa was built in the 4th century BC - it was one of the greatest achievements of ancient India.
Julian Monastery Takshashilaa - The Importance of Takshashilaa
Takshashilaa in Classical Texts, History, Geography
It finds continued mentions in numerous Jaatak, too. For centuries, across many cultures, stories of Takshashilaa (and its environs) have swirled, like even later, according to a story contained in the Mujma-t-Tavaareekh, a 12th century Persian translation from the Arabic version of a lost Sanskrit work, 30,000 Braahman with their families and retinue had in ancient times been collected from all over India and had been settled in Sindh, under Duryodhan, the King of Hastinaapur.
The Buddhist anthology of stories, Avadana-shatak mentions that "3.510 millions of Stoop were erected at the request of the people of Takshashilaa".
Taskshashilaa was lying at the three major trade routes - one was at the crossroads of the Uttaraapath (West calls it The Silk Route or GT Road - which connected Gaandhaar in the West to Paataliputra, the capital of the Kingdom of Magadh) in the East – from Tibbat, China, Central Asia, Iran – and India, fell to this mindless savagery, goes the "modern" description. But specifically, there is no mention in Chinese, Persian, Indian texts that the Hoon destroyed Takshashilaa. So, how and where did this story spring from? Kanishk, a major Buddhist king, was a Yue Chi, known as Tusharas in India, related to the White Hoon. Why would his tribal cousins destroy Takshashilaa?
Its development and importance lay in the fact that, Takshashilaa and Purush Pur, habited on either side of the Sindhu river were connected with the Indian trade routes on the Indian side and Central Asian trade routes on the other. Strategically located, Takshashilaa, the capital of Gaandhaar state, was the terminus of several inland routes and the starting points of the great trade routes connecting India and Central Asia. Based on subsequent excavation and diggings, it is thought that Takshashilaa was the oldest city in South Asia – when Alexander landed there. So Takshashilaa's historic and cultural importance is too high to become a victim of slip-shod colonial propaganda – posing as history.
Some Teachers and Students at Takshashilaa
Students paid up to 1000 coins in advance to receive education at Takshashilaa – and there were thousands of such students. Students came from all over the world – and paid large sums of money to Indian teachers for education. Kings, Braahman, commoners – all kinds of people came to study at Takshashilaa.
Nature of Education at Takshashilaa
Knowledge was considered to be too sacred to be bartered with the money and thus money paid for it was condemned. Financial support used to come from the society at large, rich parents and merchants. A teacher could have hundreds of students. Poor students were supported by free boarding and lodging. Students had to manual work in teachers' houses. The students who paid were educated in day time and who studied there free were educated in the night. Guru Dakshinaa was an usual payment after the completion of studies, but it was completely a token out of gratitude - many times only a turban or a pair of sandals, or an umbrella. Poor students could take help of kings.
Examinations were considered superfluous and were not the part of completing the education. There was no convocation, no written degree. The students who came to Takshashilaa, had completed their primary education at home (till 8 years of age), their secondary education at Aashram (between the age of 8 and 12 years of age), and then they came here to study specific subject. Improper practices could result in disaster.
Faxian, Fa Hian, Fa Hien Chinese Travelers to India
Then Fa Hian misses the name of the supposed ruling Gupt king also – a dynasty which ruled over most of South Asia! And it is Fa Hian who is supposedly a significant authority on the Gupta period. Western history labels the Gupta period as the "golden age" of Indian history – which Fa Hian seems to have completely missed. Similarly when Fa-Hien visited Takshashilaa in the 5th century AD (traveled in India during 399-414 AD), he found nothing. His travelogue makes only some cursory mentions of Takshashilaa. And that leaves Indian history with some rather big "dating" holes. Is it that Fa Hian visited India much after Kaali Daas, the Gupta dynasty, the death of Buddha? Maybe a few centuries later, relative to the period in Indian history. Otherwise Fa Hian's date of travel is well indexed, that is why those dates cannot possibly be moved much. It is the the corresponding Indic dates which come into question.
Another Chinese traveler, Sung Yun, who had a rather exalted view of his country and its ruler, is largely responsible for overly negative image of the Hoon in the "modern" history. Sung Yun's peeve – the Hoon king did not read the letter from the Wei Tartar king standing, but in a seated position. A modern historian writing on the spread of Buddhism and Buddhist traveler's tales thinks that.
Like many other things in India, Buddhism also suffered somewhat from the invasions of the Hoon, who dominated many parts of the Northwest from 480 to 530 AD; but the immediate effect of their depredations does not seem to have been very striking. At any rate, the Chinese pilgrim Sung Yun, who traveled through this region in 518-521 AD, gives us a picture in which Buddhism is quite as thriving as it was in Fa-Hien's time.
Subsequent Chinese travelers to India, like I Ching (I Ching or Yi Jing, Yijing, Yiqing, I-Tsing or YiChing), were more about Buddhism religion that it had become, instead of a school of learning and thought. I Ching also recorded details of the works and life of Bhartrihari, the (probably) 5th century BC grammarian and poet. His take away from India, from Naalandaa "in ten years (675-685 AD), during which he collected there some 400 Sanskrit texts amounting to 500,000 Shlok."
The End of Takshashilaa
Alexander in Colonial Historical Narrative
The payment of 1000 talents in gold to Aambhi aroused much envy and outrage in Alexander's camp. It prompted Meleager, to sarcastically congratulate Alexander for having at least found in India a man worth 1000 talents. What seals this incident is Alexander's retort to Meleager, that envious men only torment themselves.
During the three years anterior to the passage of the Indus, Balk (Bactria) was usually Alexander's headquarters. It was in these countries that he experienced his only serious reverses in the field. The tribes and Kshatrap (Satraps) of Indian North West swath, delayed Alexander for nearly three years – before he could step into India. In India, Alexander had to pay the King of Takashashilaa, Aambhi, 1000 talents of gold – to secure an alliance. He had to return the kingdom of Panjaab to Poras – purportedly, after winning the battle. His loot and pickings from India were negligible.
To these lean pickings, Alexander's reaction – "the Macedonians frequently massacred the defenders of the city, especially in India." What was Alexander's response to a sub-continent occupied by a complex network of peoples and states, who viewed Alexander as a new piece to be played in their complex political chess game. Another modern historian, writes that "the tale of slaughter told in the ancient sources is unparalleled elsewhere in the campaign.'
Alexander Was Also Responsible for Takshashilaa's Fall
More Questions on the Destruction of Takshashilaa
The Rise of Bauddh Religion in India
Created by Sushma Gupta on 3/15/06
Updated on 03/20/13