Ancient Indian Univerisities

Since the times of vedic civilization, through gurukuls and ashrams, education always had prominence in Indian society. And with evolving times, many centers of learning were established across ancient India of which Takshashila and Nalanda are the most famous ones known today. Below is a list of major ancient universities that flourished across ancient India.

Takshashila University


Takshashila (1000 BC to 500 AD), one of the universities in ancient Bharat is also the oldest amongst the universities on earth.  Each teacher was an institution and enjoyed full autonomy in his work.  Takshashila was a home to over 10,500 students where the students from across the world came and specialised in over 64 different fields of study like vedas, grammar, philosophy, ayurveda, agriculture, surgery, politics, archery, warfare, astronomy, commerce, futurology, music, dance, etc. Takshashila can be hailed as the intellectual capital of Bharat.

Vikramashila University


Vikramashila (1203 AD to 1800) was founded by King Dharmapala in the eighth century. It was comparable to Nalanda University that flourished during as well, with over 100 teachers and over 1000 students listed in this University. This university was well-known for its specialized training on the subject of Tantra (Tantrism)

Nalanda Unviersity

Nalanda University, Nalanda, Bihar

Nalanda University (425 AD to 1205 AD) was established by Shakraditya of Gupta dynasty.  Nalanda was the world’s first university to have residential quarters for both students and teachers. It also had large public lecture halls.  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.  This was the place which was sanctified by the stay of Buddha and saw a number of discussions on the Buddhist doctrines.

Vallabhi University

 vallabhi univeristy

Valabhi University was established in Saurashtra of modern India.  It championed the cause of Hinayana Buddhism.  Students from across the Gangetic plains came to learn in this university.  Gunamati and Sthiramati, the two famous Buddhist scholars are said to have graduated from this University. This University was popular for its training in secular subjects and students from all over the country came to study in this University.

Pushpagiri University


Pushpagiri University was established in 3rd century in ancient Kalinga kingdom and was spread across Cuttack and Jajpur districts. It flourished for the next 800 years till 11th century. The university campus was spread across three adjoining hills – Lalitgiri, Ratnagiri and Udayagiri. This was one of the most prominent centers of higher education in ancient India along with the universities of Takshashila, Nalanda and Vikramashila.   Lalitgiri is said to have been commissioned by early 2nd century BCE itself and is the oldest Buddhist establishments in the world.

Odantapuri University


Odantapuri University was established by Dharmapala of Pala dynasty during late 8th century in Magadha (which is in modern day Bihar) and flourished for 400 years till 12th century.  The famous Acharya Sri Ganga who was a professor at the Vikramashila University was a graduate of this Odantapuri University. According to the ancient Tibetan records there were about 12,000 students studying at this University. Ancient Tibetan texts mention this as one among the five great Universities of its time, the other four being Vikramashila, Nalanda, Somapura and Jagaddala Universities – all in ancient India.

 Somapura University


Somapura Mahavihara  was established during late 8th century in Bengal and flourished for 400 years till 12th century.  The University spread over 27 acres of land of which the main complex of 21 acres was one of the largest of its kind. It was a major center of learning for Bauddha Dharma (Buddhism), Jina Dharma (Jainism) and Sanatana Dharma (Hinduism). Even today one can find ornamental terracotta on its outer walls depicting the influence of these three traditions.

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