Essay on Ancient Indian Universities

Seats of Ancient Indian Universities were either holy places or capitals of great kings because the private teachers began to congregate in these places on account of facilities they received for educating pupils.

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To the holy places like Banaras, Kanchi, Karnataka and Ganganagar pilgrims flocked in large numbers and made huge gifts to the teachers there. In the capitals kings and princes patronised them.

Hence, there rose up centres of high learning at Kanauji, Mithila, Dhara, Kalyani and Tanjore. Certain kings provided villages to a set of Brahman teachers and colonised them.


These seats of learning were simply centres of education where lived many famous teachers and to which flocked students from all parts of the country. They did not possess colleges in the modern sense of the term nor university campuses.

Nor were the teacher’s members of any one single institution like the professors in a modern university.

Every teacher with his Pittiacharyas formed an institution. He admitted as many students as he liked. He taught them what they liked. Such was the form of the Taxila University, the most important seat of learning in Ancient India. It was founded by Bharata and named after his son Taksha.

Banaras was a seat of learning situated at a holy place. In the 7th century B.C., Banaras was the most important centre of Hindu learning. With the patronage of Ashoka, Sarnath in the outskirts of Banaras became the seat of Buddhist learning. It did not organise any public institutions like the Nalanda University.


In the 17th century A D., Bernier says, “Banaras is a kind of University; but it has no colleges or regular classes as in our Universities but it looks like the school of the ancients, the masters being spread over the different parts of the town in private houses.

The universities and monasteries which belonged to the Buddhist order were Nalanda and Vikramshila. From the 10th century onwards, Hindu Temple colleges became prominent as seats of higher education. They were a natural reaction to the Buddhistic monastic universities.

The Mathas of Acharyas continued the same tradition. Salotgi Temple College in Bijapur district in the 10th century A.D. was a centre of Vedic learning Ennayiram Temple College in South Arcot was an educational institution of the modern type with 16 teachers on its staff teaching a predetermined curriculum.

Other temple colleges were at Tirunukkudal and Tiruvorriyur, Malkapurram.

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