Monday, September 7, 2009

Taxila important archaeological site in Pakistan
Taxila (Urdu: ٹیکسل, Sanskrit: तक्षशिला Takshaśilā, Pali:Takkasilā) is an important archaeological site in Pakistan containing the ruins of the Gandhāran city of Takshashila (also Takkasila or Taxila) an important Vedic/Hindu and Buddhist centre of learning from the 6th century BCE to the 5th century CE. In 1980, Taxila was declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site with multiple locations.

Historically, Taxila lay at the crossroads of three major trade routes: the royal highway from Pātaliputra; the north-western route through Bactria, Kāpiśa, and Pushkalāvatī (Peshawar); and the route from Kashmir and Central Asia, via Śrinigar, Mānsehrā, and the Haripur valley across the Khunjerab pass to the Silk Road.
Today, Taxila is located in the western region of the Islamabad Capital Territory—to the northwest of Rawalpindi and on the border of the Punjab and North West Frontier Provinces—about 30 kilometres west-northwest of Islamabad, just off the Grand Trunk Road.

Legend has it that Taksha, an ancient Indian king who ruled in a kingdom called Taksha Khanda (Tashkent) founded the city of Takshashila. The word Takshashila, in Sanskrit means "belonging to the King Taksha". Taksha was the son of Bharata and Mandavi, historical characters who appear in the Indian epic Ramayana.

In the Mahābhārata, the Kuru heir Parikshit was enthroned at Taxila.

Ahmad Hasan Dani and Saifur Rahman Dar trace the etymology of Taxila to a tribe called the Takka. According to Damodar Dharmanand Kosambi, "Taxila" is related to "Takshaka," which means "carpenter" and is an alternative name for the Nāga.

c. 518 BCE – Darius the Great annexes the North-West of the Indian-Subcontinent (modern day Pakistan), including Taxila, to the Persian Achaemenid Empire.

~450 BC, Herodotus makes reference to Greek influences in this area. The language used in the area is bilingual for the better part of a 1000 years, with Greek being the second language. See coins that reflect this bilingual function.

326 BCE – Alexander the Great receives submission of Āmbhi, king of Taxila, and afterwards defeats Porus at the Jhelum River.

c. 317 BCE – In quick succession, Alexander's general Eudemus and then the satrap Peithon withdraw from India. Candragupta, founder of the Mauryan empire, then makes himself master of the Punjab. Candragupta Maurya's advisor Kautilya (also known as Chanakya) was a teacher at Taxila.

During the reign of Chandragupta's grandson Aśoka, Taxila became a great Buddhist centre of learning. Nonetheless, Taxila was briefly the center of a minor local rebellion, subdued only a few years after its onset.

185 BCE – The last Maurya emperor, Bṛhadratha, is assassinated by his general, Puṣyamitra Śunga, during a parade of his troops.

183 BCE – Demetrios conquers Gandhāra, the Punjab and the Indus valley. He builds his new capital, Sirkap, on the opposite bank of the river from Taxila. During this new period of Bactrian Greek rule, several dynasties (like Antialcidas) likely ruled from the city as their capital. During lulls in Greek rule, the city managed profitably on its own, managed independently and controlled by several local trade guilds, who also minted most of the city's autonomous coinage.

c. 90 BCE – The Indo-Scythian chief Maues overthrows the last Greek king of Taxila.

c. 25 CE – Gondophares, founder of the Indo-Parthian Kingdom, conquers Taxila and makes it his capital. (This date conflicts with the year 46 AD stated by Prof. M. M. Ninan).

c. 33-52 CE Thomas the Apostle is contracted as a carpenter for a construction project for Gondophares.

76[28] – The date of and inscription found at Taxila of 'Great King, King of Kings, Son of God, the Kushana' (maharaja rajatiraja devaputra Kushana).[29]

c. 460–470 – The Ephthalites sweep over Gandhāra and the Punjab; wholesale destruction of Buddhist monasteries and stūpas at Taxila, which never again recovers.

Takshashila was an early center of learning dating back to at least the 5th century BCE. There is some disagreement about whether Takshashila can be considered a university.

While some consider Taxila to be an early university or centre of higher education, others do not consider it a university in the modern sense, in contrast to the later Nalanda University. Takshashila is described in some detail in later Jātaka tales, written in Sri Lanka around the 5th century CE.

Although Takshashila lies in modern-day Pakistan, it is considered a place of religious and historical sanctity by Hindus and Buddhists in India.

The former do so because the strategist, Chanakya, who later helped consolidate the empire of Emperor Chandragupta Maurya, was a senior teacher there. The institution is very significant in Buddhist tradition since it is believed that the Mahāyāna sect of Buddhism took shape there.

Some scholars date Takshashila's existence back to the 6th century BCE or 7th century BCE. It became a noted centre of learning at least several centuries before Christ, and continued to attract students from around the old world until the destruction of the city in the 5th century CE.

Takshashila is perhaps best known because of its association with Chanakya. The famous treatise Arthashastra (Sanskrit for The knowledge of Economics) by Chanakya, is said to have been composed in Takshashila itself. Chanakya (or Kautilya), the Maurya Emperor Chandragupta and the Ayurvedic healer Charaka studied at Taxila.

Generally, a student entered Takshashila at the age of sixteen. The Vedas and the Eighteen Arts, which included skills such as archery, hunting, and elephant lore, were taught, in addition to its law school, medical school, and school of military science.

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