What comes to your mind when you hear about great educational institutions in the world? Obviously, Cambridge, Oxford, Harvard, Stanford, and many more would top in your list. It is the dream for everyone one of us to study in any of these universities.
Similar was the reputation of our Indian universities in ancient times.
Interestingly, our country in ancient times was the most renowned center for education in the entire world. Students from around the globe came here to receive an education.
The Indian system of education called GURUKUL was very beautiful and traditional. Students used to come and live with their Gurus till they completely became educated. Amid the serene and peaceful environment of forests, students received both formal and informal education.
Gradually, the educational centers shifted to temples and then to VIHARAS or universities for higher education.
The chief universities of ancient India are listed below.
TAKSHASHILA OR TAXILA:
Taxila university world’s first known university.
In ancient India Taxila was a noted center of education, attracting students from every corner of the world until its destruction in the 5th century CE.
The university imparted education in various disciplines including ancient scriptures, law, medicine, astronomy, military science, and the eighteen silpas or arts.
The university gained this position due to the quality and expertise of its teachers. Among its noted pupils were the legendary Indian grammarian, Panini. He was an expert in language and grammar and authored one of the greatest works on grammar called Ashtadhyayi.
Jivaka, one of the most renowned physicians in ancient India, and Chanakya (also known as Kautilya), a skilled exponent of statecraft, both studied here.
The grandeur of this university was known far and wide.
This was the most eminent university of the time and attracted not only students from around the world but scholars too visited here. The Chinese scholars I-Qing and Xuan Zang visited Nalanda in the 7th century CE. He has given a vivid account of the university.
noted that as many as one hundred discourses happened daily, in a variety of disciplines through the methods of debate and discussions. Xuan Zang himself became a student of Nalanda to study yoga shastra.
Vikramshila university gained popularity after the decline of Nalanda. It was comprised of 6 colleges, administered by a council of 114 eminent teachers. The central structure was named Vigyan Bhawan. It taught subjects as grammar, tantra vidya, logic, philosophy & Tibetan education. After successful completion, a degree was conferred on pupils based on their merits.
In 1203 Bakhtiar Khilji destroyed the Vikramasila faculty considering it to be a fort.
Thus, the educational system of ancient India not only focused on imparting conventional studies but also laid great stress on the character-building of its students.