Wednesday, April 8, 2015


A user's photo.Takshashila
This ancient city also finds mention in Mahabharat which suggest its existence eating back to 3100B.C.
At its height, it has been suggested that Tak...shashila exerted a sort of "intellectual suzerainty" over other centres of learning in India, and its primary concern was not with elementary, but higher education. Generally, a student entered Takshashila at the age of sixteen. The Vedas and the Sixty four Silpas or Arts, which included skills such as archery, hunting, and elephant lore, astronomy, mathematics, science etc. were taught, in addition to its law school, medical school, and school of military science.
By some accounts, Taxilla was considered to be amongst the earliest universities in the world. No external authorities like kings or local leaders subjected the scholastic activities at Takshashila to their control. Each teacher formed his own institution, enjoying complete autonomy in work, teaching as many students as he liked and teaching subjects he liked without conforming to any centralized syllabus. Study terminated when the teacher was satisfied with the student's level of achievement. In general, specialisation in a subject took around eight years, though this could be lengthened or shortened in accordance with the intellectual abilities and dedication of the student in question. In most cases the "schools" were located within the teachers' private houses, and at times students were advised to quit their studies if they were unable to fit into the social, intellectual and moral atmosphere there.

Knowledge was considered too sacred to be bartered for money, and hence any stipulation that fees ought to be paid was vigorously condemned. Financial support came from the society at large, as well as from rich merchants and wealthy parents. Though the number of students studying under a single Guru sometimes numbered in the hundreds, teachers did not deny education even if the student was poor; free boarding and lodging was provided, and students had to do manual work in the household. Paying students like princes were taught during the day; non-paying ones, at night. Guru Dakshina was usually expected at the completion of a student's studies, but it was essentially a mere token of respect and gratitude - many times being nothing more than a turban, a pair of sandals, or an umbrella. In cases of poor students being unable to afford even that, they could approach the king, who would then step in and provide something. Not providing a poor student a means to supply his Guru's Dakshina was considered the greatest slur on a King's reputation.
Examinations were treated as superfluous, and not considered part of the requirements to complete one's studies. The process of teaching was critical and thorough- unless one unit was mastered completely, the student was not allowed to proceed to the next. No convocations were held upon completion, and no written "degrees" were awarded, since it was believed that knowledge was its own reward. Using knowledge for earning a living or for any selfish end was considered sacrilegious.
Students arriving at Takshashila usually had completed their primary education at home (until the age of eight), and their secondary education in the Ashrams (between the ages of eight and twelve), and therefore came to Takshashila chiefly to reach the ends of knowledge in specific disciplines. Both theoretical and practical aspects of the subjects were taught, and particular care was taken to ensure competence of students incase of subjects like medicine, where improper practice could result in disaster. The list of subjects taught at Takshashila underwent many additions over the years, with even Greek being taught there after the Alexandrian conquests. Foreign savants were accorded as much importance as local teachers.

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