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Unveiling The Rich History of Taxila: A Journey Through The Ages

September 7, 2023

Introduction to History of Gandhara, Taxila

My invitation to spend my rainy-season getaway in the Islamic Republic of Pakistan, the nation that has. Since it served as the administrative centre for Gandhara, with Taxila serving as its capital, it has played a significant and significant part in Buddhist civilization. Gandhara is a well-known name. Any Buddhist who is acquainted with the Buddhist Jataka or the Sutta.

They would have read several accounts of this country, one of the sixteen most significant states in Jambudvipa (Mahajanapada), which experienced immense prosperity under Lord Buddha. The overall picture can be divided into three essential periods by examining the history of Gandhara to understand how it has changed studying human history.

First Period: Before the time of Lord Buddha 

The route of the Mahabhodhisatta, who later became our current Lord Buddha, may be found in the Jataka stories of the Pali Canon (Tipitaka), even though we cannot determine Taxila’s exact age. By the resolve that had been faithfully kept throughout all those centuries, He was born there and lived many of His lifetimes there to cultivate Dhamma perfections.

Evidence found in the Citta-Sambhuta Jataka tells the following tale: “The Mahabhodhisatta was known as Cittakumara in his youth as an outcaste (candala), residing in a village on the outskirts of Ujjeni City with a buddy of similar age, Sambhutakumara, who was also the son of his aunt. They agreed to keep their caste a secret after suffering the consequences of being born into the Chandala caste and assuming the Brahmins’ identity. Before their secret was revealed, the two companions traveled to Taxila to study various arts and sciences in several schools with illustrious teachers (Disapamokkha) of Taxila.

It would be worthwhile to investigate this kind of story that is taking place in Taxila City, the home of spiritual culture. Additional accounts of the Bodhisatta’s journey before realization. Several eras of Supreme Enlightenment and Blessed Holy Oneship connected to the region of Taxila existed, one of which is primarily related to the name of this city. Why is Taxila its name? According to one Jataka narrative, he was born a Brahmin in the village and followed the path of amassing perfections (parami).

When Daliddi committed His efforts to gather, the Bodhisatta attained perfection (parami) by lending a being His head Man. The city was later given the name “Taxila” and described as “The cut-off” in a book by a Chinese monk named Fa Xien Head.”

We can infer from these tales that Taxila City existed for a very long time before the Buddha because the name “Taxila City” appears frequently in the Jataka. Although no mention of its age was made, it could be thousands or even tens of thousands of years old. Another jataka describes how He offered His body to a starved tigress during His time as a Bodhisattva. The realization of the whole Buddhakarana Dhamma and the achievement of Self-Enlightenment, as He had long desired, resulted from a tremendous dana parami.

Thus, Taxila is acknowledged as the city that the Mahabodhisatta traveled through to gather His parami, and it deserves investigation as to why this region is considered worthy of such dedication.

Second Period: During the Buddha’s Time 

The phrase “Taxila, the city of Gandhara state” was visible. A Righteous King named Pukkusatiraja once discovered trust in Lord Buddha and His well-explained Dhamma, which caused him to renounce his throne and adopt the monastic life, becoming ordained into Buddhism.

The Dhatu-vibhanga sutta recounts his ordination and how he acquired the third degree of holiness, or non-returner (anagami), after hearing the Dhamma from the Lord Buddha in the home of Bhaggava, a potter in Rajagaha city. He was then gored to death by a mad cow possessed by the spirit of a demon as a result of his past karma.

In addition to King Pukkusatiraja of Gandhara, there were legends concerning Tapussa and Bhallika from Ukkala Janapada, King Mahakappina of the neighboring Kukkutavadi region, his queen Anochadevi, and Queen Khemavdevi, the wife of King Bimbisara. In the following sections of this book, these tales—particularly that of King Mahakappina, subsequently known as Mahakappina Thera—will be mentioned.

It is significant to note that, according to accounts from the time of Lord Buddha, many notable people were associated with Taxila. Kings and Brahmins traveled there to study a wide range of academic subjects, including public administration, military science, medicine, and the entirety of the Brahmanic Canon (Tiveda). 

They include Prince Mahali of Licchavi, Minister Bandula of the Malla Clan, Jivaka Komarabhaj, and Ahimsaka (Angulimala), as well as King Pasenadi of Kosala, Prince Siddhatta of the Sakya Clan, and Sakka country, who subsequently became our Lord Buddha.

Although there is no evidence in His life story before His Great Renunciation to support this, it was assumed that He must have traveled to this city to study many branches of knowledge. It was likely a sign of its prosperity as a truly world-class university, given the background of culture and tradition at the time.

The Third Period: After the Buddha’s Time 

King Alexander, the Great of Greece, conquered Taxila. The setting of Taxila’s culture and tradition was described in a book by a Greek author as follows: “The Taxila people who are too impoverished to find partners for their daughters will bring them to the market, blowing conches and beating drums as a signal for interested persons to come and inspect. A payment has been agreed upon if they decide to take the girls as their brides. The wife is compelled to commit suicide if the husband dies because she has joined a family.

Monks were requested to act as Buddhist missionaries in spreading Buddhism in the second to third Buddhist century under King Ashoka, the Great of the Mauriya Dynasty. There were nine missions in total, one of which was

It is Majjhantika Thera who visited the states of Kasmir and Gandhara. As indicated by the building of the stupa for the foundation of Lord Buddha’s Holy Relics, known as the Dhammarajika Stupa of Taxila, this led to the growth of the kingdoms under King Ashoka throughout Jambudvipa, including Gandhara’s Taxila metropolis.

Archaeologists’ opinions on this Taxila stupa vary, with some contending that it is unlikely to have existed during the reign of King Ashoka because Indo-Greek Coins dating to the second century BCE were found nearby. The Sanchi stupa was a popular design during the reign of King Ashoka, but since there hasn’t been a definitive answer, we can’t dismiss the evidence and opinion that it was destroyed by the White Huns in the fifth century CE and left in ruins. The Gandhara region’s Buddhist monasteries, shrines, and stupas were demolished.

Sir John Marshall began his archaeological investigation in Buddhist ancient sites near Taxila in 1913 CE (2456 BE), where he found the damaged and looted stupa in disrepair. The ruins of human skeletons were discovered in the open space on the southern side of the stupa, together with goods said to belong to monks who were killed during the White Hun invasion, and there were indications that a sizable canal had been built to transport precious items from the stupa.

The importance and high worth of the Buddhist sites from the Gandhara civilization in Taxila, which is currently in the Islamic Republic of Pakistan, may be seen in the archaeological evidence. The primary center of the Gandhara State, which was located 35.40 kilometers north of Rawalpindi, flourished for more than 3,000 years before the White Hun invasion in the 10th Buddhist Century (1008 BE).

In Taxila, Sir John Marshall, a British archaeologist who worked there for 21 years between 1913 and 1934 CE (2456 to 2477 BE), unearthed three ancient cities, more than 24 stupas, and Buddhist ruins that date to the early sixth century BCE. The three ancient cities are Sirkap, Sirsukh, and Bhir Mound.

The construction of the pillar at Sirkap was described in an inscription in Aramaic scripts as a tribute to “Piyadarshi” Prince Ashoka, the Viceroy ruler of Taxila. This evidence was essential for the investigation into the antiquity of Buddhist sites on that territory since it provided proof that it happened unquestionably during the reign of King Ashoka the Great.


I traveled today, July 12, 2565, to Taxila, where I will spend three months in a rain retreat with five monks and one novice. I will stay in a 100-year-old building that the Government of Pakistan has offered to serve as my home during this time. The structure that now houses Taxila Museum was once owned by Sir John Marshall, a British archaeologist who oversaw the excavations over a century ago. 

Being near the absolute legend in charge of excavating Buddhist ancient monuments in Taxila is a fantastic pleasure, especially when you visit the bedroom that the Punjab Archaeology Department made sure was in good condition.

I appreciate his endeavor and the discovery of Buddhist historical monuments so well-preserved that UNESCO designated them as Buddhist World Heritage. All Buddhists and the people of Pakistan should be proud of the lengthy history of this place of civilization, known as the Gandhara Region at Taxila and long in existence.

Frequently Asked Questions

Q1.What is the significance of Taxila in Buddhist history?

Ans. Taxila holds immense significance in Buddhist history as it is believed to be where the Mahabhodhisatta cultivated Dhamma perfections before becoming Lord Buddha.

Q2.Who were some notable figures associated with Taxila during Lord Buddha’s time?

Ans. Notable figures associated with Taxila during Lord Buddha’s time include King Pukkusatiraja, Tapussa and Bhallika, and Prince Siddhatta of the Sakya Clan, who later became Lord Buddha.

Q3.How did King Ashoka contribute to the spread of Buddhism in Taxila?

Ans. King Ashoka played a pivotal role in spreading Buddhism in Taxila through his missions, with Majjhantika Thera visiting the region and contributing to its growth.

Q4.What are some key archaeological findings in Taxila?

Ans. Taxila’s key archaeological findings include ancient cities like Sirkap, Sirsukh, and Bhir Mound and inscriptions confirming King Ashoka’s reign.

Q5.Can tourists visit Taxila’s historical sites today?

Ans. Tourists can visit Taxila’s historical sites today to explore its rich heritage and history.

Q6.How has Taxila’s heritage been preserved for future generations?

Ans. Taxila’s heritage has been carefully preserved through UNESCO recognition and ongoing efforts by the Pakistani government and archaeologists to protect and showcase its historical treasures. 

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