The capital of Gandhāra. It is frequently
mentioned as a centre of education, especially in the Jātakas. It is significant
that it is never mentioned in the suttas, though, according to numerous Jātaka
stories, it was a great centre of learning from pre-Buddhistic times. The
Commentaries mention that in the Buddha's day, also, princes and other eminent
men received their training at Takkasilā. Pasenadi, king of Kosala, Mahāli,
chief of the Licchavis, and Bandhula, prince of the Mallas, were classmates in
the university of Takkasilā (DhA.i.337). Among others described as being
students of Takkasilā are Jīvaka, Angulimāla, Dhammapāla of Avanti, Kanhadinna,
Bhāradvāja and Yasadatta (q.v.).
From Benares to Takkasilā was a distance of two thousand yojanas (J.i.395),
though we are told that sometimes the journey was accomplished in one day
(J.ii.47). The road passed through thick jungle infested by robbers (DhA.iv.66).
Takkasilā was, however, a great centre of trade; people flocked to it from
various parts of the country (MNid.i.154), not only from Benares, but also from
Sāvatthi, from which city the road lay through Soreyya (DhA.i.326). In ancient
times students came to the university from Lāla (J.i.447), from the Kuru country
(DhA.iv.88), from Magadha (J.v.161), and from the Sivi country (J.v.210).
The students in the university studied the three Vedas and the eighteen
sciences (vijjā) (J.i.159), which evidently included the science of archery
(J.i.356; DhA.iv.66; also medicine and surgery, Vin.i.269f), the art of
swordmanship (J.v.128), and elephant-craft (hatthi-sutta) (J.ii.47). Mention is
also made of the study of magic, such as the Ālambanamanta, for charming snakes
(J.iv.457), and the Nidhiuddharanamanta, for recovering buried treasure
(J.iii.116). The students were also taught the science of ritual (manta)
(J.ii.200); but in this branch of learning Benares seems to have had a greater
reputation, for we find students being sent there from Takkasilā in order to
learn the mantas (DhA.iii.445).
The students generally paid a fee to the teacher on admission, the usual
amount being one thousand gold pieces. They waited on the teacher by day and
were taught by him at night. The paying students were entitled to various
privileges, and lived with the teacher as members of his family, enjoying his
constant company. The students seem mostly to have done their own domestic work,
leading a co-operate life, gathering their own firewood and cooking their meals,
though mention is made of servants, both male and female, helping in the various
Only brāhmanas and khattiyas appear to have been eligible for admission to
Discipline was evidently very rigorous, a breach of the rules being severely
punished, irrespective of the status of the pupil, who was sometimes flogged on
the back with a bamboo stick (J.ii.277f). Often the most promising students were
given the daughters of the teachers in marriage as a mark of very special favour.
(E.g., DhA.iv.66. Elsewhere (J.vi.347) it is stated that the teacher's daughter
was given to the eldest pupil).
Sometimes the teacher and his pupils were invited to a meal at the house of a
chief man of the city (J.iv.391). The principal teacher was called
Disāpāmokkhācariya; under him were assistants, usually chosen from among his
students, who were called pitthiācariyā (E.g., J. ii.100).
Takkasilā, being the capital of Gandhāra, was probably also the seat of
government. Bimbisāra's contemporary in Gandhāra was Pukkusāti (J.i.399;
ii.218). Mention is made in the Jātakas of a Takkasilā-rājā (AA.i.153; MA.i.335;
ii.979, 987f). According to the Kumbhakāra Jātaka (q.v.), Takkasilā was the
capital of Naggaji. The Dīpavamsa (iii.31) records that twelve kings,
descendants of Dīpankara, ruled in succession at Takkasilā.
It is said in the Divyāvadāna (p.371) that Bindusāra's empire included
Takkasilā. There was once a rebellion there and Asoka was sent to quell it. From
the minor Rock Edict II. of Asoka it would appear that Takkasilā was the
headquarters of a provincial government at Gandhāra, placed under a Kumāra or
Viceroy. A rebellion broke out there again in the time of Asoka, who sent his
son Kunāla to settle it.
Takkasilā is identified with the Greek Taxila, in Rawalpindi in the Punjab.