Tuesday, April 7, 2009

An Ancient Indian University, The Nalanda

An ancient seat of learning, The Nalanda University of India

Recently recognized as one of the Seven Wonders of India, this University is about 55 km south of Patna in Bihar and was a Buddhist center of learning for about 700 years from 427 to 1127 CE. One the world’s first residential universities, this ancient University occupies an area of 14 hectares. Originally built by Gupta emperors, some additions were subsequently made by the great Mauryan Emperor Ashoka. Buddhist emperor Harshavardhana and other dynasties like the Pala kings also patronized this. At the height of its glory, this University had accommodated more than 10,000 students and 2000 scholars mostly from Korea, Japan, Persia, China and Greece. Science, astronomy, medicine and logic were taught here in addition to metaphysics, philosophy, Yoga, Veda, and Buddhism. Foreign philosophy was also imparted here. Buddhist influence was clearly evident.

The library of Nalanda University had three great buildings called the Sea of Jewels, Ocean of Jewels, and the Delight of Jewels. This was a great repository of Buddhist knowledge, but was set ablaze by the Muslim invaders.

Buddha is believed as having stayed here several times usually in a mango grove. He had visited Nalanda during his last visit through the city of Magadh. Sariputta, the right-handed discipline of Buddha was born. After his death here, Emperor Ashoka (250 BC) built the Sariputta Stupa in his memory. The famous Nagarjuna had taught here.

Nalanda means giver of knowledge. The Chinese pilgrim-monk Xuanzang also mentions this in his works. The famous Chinese traveler and monk Hieun Tsang had stayed here during the 7th century and provides valuable information about this University. He came here as a student and was stayed back as a teacher for 12 years.

This great University’s decline started after the attack by Khilji in 1193 when thousands of monks were burnt or beheaded.

Some ruins still remain, but 90% of the site still remains to be excavated. The Nalanda Museum display many items excavated.

Efforts are afoot by the international community to revive the Nalanda University near the ancient site and funds are being provided for this project by a consortium of nations including Singapore, China, Japan, and India.

Of interest, Taxila or Takshasila was a similar University in the Punjab province of Pakistan.

Nalanda was identified by Alexander Cunningham with the village of Baragaon.

Source: Google
Image: Google

5 comments on "An Ancient Indian University, The Nalanda"

Anonymous said...

Its a pity that this glorious university has lost its charm.The singapore government has sent a minister last month there and is planning to fund the buddhist and other studies there.

G.Kannan on April 8, 2009 at 11:57 AM said...

Thanks for your sincere comments.

Shanthy on April 10, 2009 at 10:18 AM said...

What a splendour it was

Malathy on April 13, 2009 at 8:14 AM said...

I see your blogroll highway. Pl check occasionally if they all link back to you.

Somorita on November 2, 2010 at 2:06 PM said...

I’m a student from Bangladesh. I want to get admission in your University. I found Your University address from sromobazar.com.Can I apply from the site to you? Do you have any agent in Bangladesh?
Pls reply me at somorita131@gmail.com



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