Takṣaśilā, the famous centre of learning of great antiquity (generally assigned to the period 400 B. C.), has been identified with the modern Taxila in the Rawalpindi district of Pakistan. It is about 65 kms. (40 miles) to the east of the Indus river.
According to the Rāmāyaṇa (Uttara-kāṇḍa, Ch. 101), the city was founded by Bharata in the Gāndhāra country for his son Takṣa and came to be known as Takṣapuṣkala.
Janamejaya (son of the king Parīkṣit and great-grandson of Arjuna) is said to have performed the serpent-sacrifice here after conquering it (vide Mahābhārata, Ādiparva, Ch. 3).
Several Buddhist Jātakas (stories depicting the past lives of Buddha) also refer to this as the capital of Gāndhāra-deśa.
The city was famous for its great university. Students from all the varṇas flocked to its portals to study different arts and sciences. Even princes from well-known dynasties studied here. Discipline was very strict and none was above it.
The curriculum included the following subjects: Vedas; rituals; archery; swordsmanship; magic; snake-charming; recovery of buried treasure and many other sciences.
Admission was difficult. There were no regular syllabi and courses. Expert teachers, with established reputation, taught their students as per their convenience. The students could stay with their teachers or make their own arrangements for board and lodging.
Pāṇini (5th century B. C.), the famous grammarian and Jīvaka, an expert physician and surgeon of his times, were students of this university.
Takṣaśilā was also a commercial centre visited by traders from different countries.
The city was destroyed by the Hūṇas in A. D. 460.