The place that does not sleep. Naimiṣāraṇya नैमिषारण्य was an ancient forest mentioned in the epic Mahabharata and the Puranas.It lay on the banks of the Gomati River (in Uttar Pradesh) between the Panchala Kingdom and the Kosala Kingdom. The whole narration of Mahabharata took place at Naimisha forests, during a conclave of sages headed by sage Saunaka, who gathered for a sacrifice to the cause of world peace.
In this forest, the famous Shaunaka rishi, who also wrote the shlokas in praise of Lord Shiva, chanted all the verses of the modern day Mahabharata, which was written by sage Ugrasravas Sauti, in one breath. Rāmāyaṇa mentions that Lav and Kush, the sons of Ram narrated the epic by Valmiki in the Naimiṣāraṇya in hgis Ashvamedha-yajna.
This is the world’s oldest university. Takshashila University was home to over 10500 students where the students from all across the world used to come to attain specialization in over 64 different fields of study like vedas, grammar, philosophy, ayurveda, agriculture, surgery, politics, archery, warfare, astronomy, commerce, futurology, music, dance, etc.
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. The famous Panini too was a student of Takshashila
Legend has it that Takṣaśilā derived its name from Takṣa, who was the son of Bharatha. Takṣa’s kingdom was called Takṣa Khanda and its capital that he founded was named Takṣaśilā
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.
Kashi Vishwad Peet
Benaras is the oldest city in the world established by Mahadeva himself. It was and continues to be the focal point of Vedic Hindu learning. Shankara, a young boy of 16, debated and won over Mandala Mishra near this city. The Sankya muni Buddha taught his first sermon to a group of monks in a deer park in Sarnath in this very place.
Nalanda University was established by Shakraditya of Gupta dynasty in modern Bihar during early 5th century and flourished for 600 years till 12th century. Nalanda was the world’s first university to have residential quarters for both students and teachers. It also had large public lecture halls. Students from countries like Korea, Japan, China, Tibet, Indonesia, Persia and Turkey came to study in this university.
The library of this university was the largest library of the ancient world and had thousands of volumes of manuscripts on various subjects like grammar, logic, literature, astrology, astronomy, and medicine. The library complex was called Dharmaganja, and had three large buildings: the Ratnasagara, the Ratnadadhi, and the Ratnaranjaka. Ratnadadhi was nine stories tall and stored the most sacred manuscripts including the Prajnaparamita Sutra and the Samajguhya
Sharada Peet in Kashmir
Destruction of Ancient Indian Universities
Many of the universities mentioned above came to an end around 12th century. The universities like Nalanda, Vikramashila etc were destroyed around this period during the Muslim invasion of India by the fanatic Bakhtiyar Khilji from Turkey in 1193 CE. The great library of Nalanda University was destroyed, ransacked and burnt by the soldiers of Khilji’s army and it is said that it was so vast that the manuscripts kept burning for three months. In-numerous number of ancient Indian manuscripts carefully preserved for thousands of years were destroyed in this fire. Thousands of monks in the University were burnt alive and beheaded by Khilji’s army. According to DC Ahir, the destruction of these centres of learning at Nalanda and other places across northern India was responsible for the demise of ancient Indian scientific thought in mathematics, astronomy, alchemy, and anatomy.