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Salaka Pariksha – Method Of Examination In Ancient Indian Universities

Salaka Pariksha was a method of examination in the ancient Indian education system, used particularly by the Vishwavidyalaya (university) of Mithila, situated in the border are of present-day Bihar and Nepal.

In ancient days (3000 or more years ago), various universities or gurukulas at Sharada, Takshashila, Vallabhi, Haridwara, Prayaga, Kashi, Vikramashila, Nalanda, Mithila etc., had not only their own curricula but also methods of examinations.

Examinations were not of the mechanical type. Besides some general methods of testing the knowledge and capability of the students through debates, discussions, speech, etc., the test as well as evaluation used to be based on direct communication between the evaluator and the student.

Educational institutions in Mithila University devised a unique method of testing the knowledge of its senior students, in which a salaka (needle) was pierced randomly from any side in the manuscript of the examinee, or the book prescribed for his studies, and he had to explain the subject matter discussed or described in the pages tagged by the needle. Of course, this was not the only method of examination and was indeed adopted at the final level. At the earlier stages, other methods of evaluation were used.

The student who passed salaka pariksha was awarded a title (degree). Description of one such instance is available when a brilliant student, Vasudeva, got through the test marvelously and was honored with the title ‘sarvabhamah’, which means ‘knower of everything’.