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Nalanda University - Wikipedia Article

Nalanda is the name of an ancient university in Bihar, India. The site of Nalanda is located in the Indian state of Bihar, about 55 miles south east of Patna, and was a Buddhist center of learning from 427 CE to 1197 CE partly under the Pala Empire.[1][2] It has been called "one of the first great universities in recorded history."[2] Nalanda is located at 25.135766° N 85.444923° ECoordinates: 25.135766° N 85.444923° E. Nalanda was identified by Alexander Cunningham with the village of Baragaon[3].

1 Etymology
2 Nalanda in the time of the Buddha (500 BC)
3 Arising and establishment of Nalanda University
4 Description of Nalanda University
5 Libraries
6 Curriculum
6.1 Influence on Buddhism
7 Decline and end
8 Ruins
9 Plans for revival
10 See also
11 Picture Gallery
12 References
13 External links

The name is a Sanskrit word that means giver of knowledge, (possibly from nalam, lotus, a symbol of knowledge and da, to give).[4] The Chinese pilgrim-monk Xuanzang[5] gives several explanations of the name Nalanda. One is that it was named after the Naga who lived in a tank in the middle of the mango grove. Another - and accepted by him - is that Shakyamuni Buddha once had his capital here and gave "alms without intermission," hence the name.

Nalanda in the time of the Buddha (500 BC)
The Buddha is mentioned as having several times stayed at Nalanda. When he visited Nalanda he would usually reside in Pavarika's mango grove, and while there he had discussions with Upali-Gahapati and Dighatapassi[6], with Kevatta[7], and also several conversations with Asibandhakaputta[8].

The Buddha visited Nalanda during his last tour through Magadha, and it was there that Sariputta uttered his "lion's roar," affirming his faith in the Buddha, shortly before his death[9]. The road from Rajagaha to Nalanda passed through Ambalatthika[10], and from Nalanda it went on to Pataligama[11]. Between Rajagaha and Nalanda was situated the Bahuputta cetiya[12].

According to the Kevatta Sutta[13], in the Buddha's time Nalanda was already an influential and prosperous town, thickly populated, though it was not until later that it became the centre of learning for which it afterwards became famous. There is a record in the Samyutta Nikaya[14], of the town having been the victim of a severe famine during the Buddha's time. Sariputta, the right hand disciple of the Buddha, was born and died in Nalanda.[1]

Nalanda was the residence of Sonnadinna[15]. Mahavira is several times mentioned as staying at Nalanda, which was evidently a centre of activity of the Jains. Mahavira is believed to have attained Moksha at Pavapuri, which is located in Nalanda (also according to one sect of Jainism he was born in the nearby village called Kundalpur).[citation needed]

King Asoka (250 BC) is said to have built a temple there[1]. According to Tibetan sources, Nagarjuna taught there[16].

Arising and establishment of Nalanda University
Historical studies indicate that the University of Nalanda was established 450 CE under the patronage of the Gupta emperors, notably Kumaragupta.[1]

Description of Nalanda UniversityPilgrimage to Buddha's Holy Sites

The Four Main Sites
Lumbini · Bodh Gaya
Sarnath · Kushinagar

Four Additional Sites
Sravasti · Rajgir
Sankissa · Vaishali

Other Sites
Patna · Gaya
Kosambi · Mathura
Kapilavastu · Devadaha
Kesariya · Pava
Nalanda · Varanasi
Later Sites
Sanchi · Ratnagiri
Ellora · Ajanta

Nalanda was one of the world's first residential universities, i.e., it had dormitories for students. It is also one of the most famous universities. In its heyday it accommodated over 10,000 students and 2,000 teachers. The university was considered an architectural masterpiece, and was marked by a lofty wall and one gate. Nalanda had eight separate compounds and ten temples, along with many other meditation halls and classrooms. On the grounds were lakes and parks. The library was located in a nine storied building where meticulous copies of texts were produced. The subjects taught at Nalanda University covered every field of learning, and it attracted pupils and scholars from Korea, Japan, China, Tibet, Indonesia, Persia and Turkey.[2] The Tang Dynasty Chinese pilgrim Xuanzang left detailed accounts of the university in the 7th century.

The library of Nalanda, known as Dharma Gunj (Mountain of Truth), was the most renowned repository of Buddhist knowledge in the world at the time. Its collection was said to comprise hundreds of thousands of volumes, so extensive that it burned for months when set aflame by Muslim invaders. The library had three main buildings as high as nine stories tall, Ratnasagar (Sea of Jewels), Ratnodadhi (Ocean of Jewels), and Ratnaranjaka (Delighter of Jewels)[17]

In an unattributed article of the Dharma Fellowship (2005), the curriculum of Nalanda University at the time of Mañjusrimitra contained:

...virtually the entire range of world knowledge then available. Courses were drawn from every field of learning, Buddhist and Hindu, sacred and secular, foreign and native. Students studied science, astronomy, medicine, and logic as diligently as they applied themselves to metaphysics, philosophy, Samkhya, Yoga-shastra, the Veda, and the scriptures of Buddhism. They studied foreign philosophy likewise.[18]

Berzin (2002) outlines the 'four systems of Buddhist tenets' or 'four doxographies' (Tibetan: grub-mtha’) taught at Nalanda, the Vaibhashika (Tibetan: bye-brag smra-ba) and Sautrantika (Tibetan: mdo-sde-pa) of the Sarvastivada (Tibetan: thams-cad yod-par smra-ba); and the Chittamatra (Sanskrit: sems-tsam-pa) and Madhyamaka (Tibetan: dbu-ma-pa) of the Mahayana:

In the Indian Mahayana Buddhist monasteries, such as Nalanda, monks studied four systems of Buddhist tenets. Two – Vaibhashika and Sautrantika – were subdivisions of the Sarvastivada school within Hinayana. The other two – Chittamatra and Madhyamaka – were subdivisions within Mahayana.[19]

Influence on Buddhism
A vast amount of what came to comprise Tibetan Buddhism, both its sutric Mahayana traditions and its (Vajrayana) traditions, stems from the late (9th-12th century) Nalanda teachers and traditions. The scholar Dharmakirti (circa 7th century), one of the Buddhist founders of Indian philosophical logic, as well as and one of the primary theorists of Buddhist atomism, taught at Nalanda.

Other forms of Buddhism, like the Mahayana followed in Vietnam, China, Korea and Japan, found their genesis within the walls of the ancient university.

Also Theravada Buddhism was taught at Nalanda University. But the teachings of Theravada were not developed further in Nalanda, as Nalanda was not a strong center of Theravada.

Decline and end
In 1193, the Nalanda University was sacked by Bakhtiyar Khilji[20]; this event is arguably seen by modern Brahiminist scholars as a milestone in the decline of Buddhism in India. Legend has that the only thing Khilji asked was if there was a copy of the Koran at Nalanda before he sacked it. The Persian historian Minhaz, in his chronicle the Tabaquat-I-Nasiri, reported that thousands of monks were burned alive and thousands beheaded,[21] and the burning of the library contin­ued for several months and "smoke from the burning manuscripts hung for days like a dark pall over the low hills."[22]. When the Tibetan translator Chag Lotsawa (Chag Lo-tsa-ba, 1197 - 1264) visited the site in 1235, he found it damaged and looted, with a 90 year-old teacher, Rahula Shribhadra, instructing a class of about seventy students, apparently with the support of a local Brahmin.[23][24].

Ahir considers the destruction of the temples, monasteries, centers of learning at Nalanda and northern India to be responsible for the demise of ancient Indian scientific thought in mathematics, astronomy, alchemy, and anatomy.[25] Ling and Scott, however, point out that centres of learning were already declining, before the presence of Muslims.[20] Fortified Sena monasteries along the main route of the invasion were destroyed, and being off the main route both Nalanda and Bodh Gaya survived. Many institutions off the main route such as the Jagaddala Monastery in northern Bengal were untouched and flourishing.[citation needed]

A number of ruined structures survive. Nearby is the Surya Mandir, a Hindu temple. The known and excavated ruins extend over an area of about 150,000 square metres, although if Xuanzang's account of Nalanda's extent is correlated with present excavations, almost 90% of it remains unexcavated.

Nalanda is no longer inhabited. Today the nearest habitation is a village called Bargaon.

In 1951, a modern centre for Pali (Theravadin) Buddhist studies was founded nearby by Bhikshu Jagdish Kashyap, the Nava Nalanda Mahavihara. Presently, this institute is pursuing an ambitious program of satellite imaging of the entire region.

The Nalanda Museum contains a number of manuscripts, and shows many examples of the items that have been excavated.

India's first Multimedia Museum was opened on 26th Jan 2008 which recreates the history of Nalanda using a 3D animation film narrated by Shekhar Suman. Besides this there are four more sections in the Multimedia Museum: Geographical Perspective, Historical Perspective, Hall of Nalanda and Revival of Nalanda.

Plans for revival
On December 9, 2006, the New York Times detailed a plan in the works to spend $1 billion to revive Nalanda University near the ancient site. A consortium led by Singapore and including China, India, Japan and other nations will attempt to raise $500 million to build a new university and another $500 million to develop necessary infrastructure.[2]
On May 28, 2007, Merinews reported that the revived university's enrollment will be 1,137 in its first year, and 4,530 by the fifth. In the 'second phase', enrolment will reach 5,812. [26]
On June 12, 2007, News Post India reported that the Japanese diplomat Noro Motoyasu said that "Japan will fund the setting up an international university in Nalanda in Bihar". The report goes on to say that "The proposed university will be fully residential, like the ancient seat of learning at Nalanda. In the first phase of the project, seven schools with 46 foreign faculty members and over 400 Indian academics would come up." ... "The university will impart courses in science, philosophy and spiritualism along with other subjects. A renowned international scholar will be its chancellor."[27]
On August 15, 2007, The Times of India reported that Dr A.P.J. Abdul Kalam has accepted the offer to join the revived Nalanda International University sometime in September 2007."[28]
NDTV reported on May 5, 2008 that, according to Nobel Laureate Amartya Sen, The foundation of University would likely be in the year 2009 and the first teaching class could begin in a few years from then. Sen, who heads the Nalanda Mentor Group, said the final report in this regard, is expected to be presented to the East Asia Summit in December 2008.
On May 11, 2008, The Times of India reported that host nation India and a consortium of East Asian countries met in New York to further discuss Nalanda plans. It was decided that Nalanda would largely be a post-graduate research university, with the following schools: School of Buddhist studies, philosophy, and comparative religion; School of historical studies; School of International Relations and Peace; School of Business Management and Development; School of Languages and Literature; and, School of Ecology and Environmental Studies. The objective of the school was claimed to be "aimed at advancing the concept of an Asian community...and rediscovering old relationships."[29]

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Replies to This Discussion

The photo seen above are some of the remains of Nalanda University in Bihar, India. Founded in AD 450, Nalanda was the largest university and library in the world at the time. The university was considered an architectural masterpiece, and was marked by a lofty wall and one gate. Nalanda had eight separate compounds and ten temples, along with many other meditation halls and classrooms. On the grounds were lakes and parks. The library was located in a nine story building where meticulous copies of texts were produced. The subjects taught at Nalanda University covered every field of learning, and it attracted pupils and scholars from Korea, Japan, China, Tibet, Indonesia, Persia and Turkey. In its heyday the school accommodated over 10,000 students and 2,000 teachers.

Nalanda was destroyed by Muslim invaders in 1193, led by a Mogul warlord named Khilji. The Persian historian Minhaz reported that thousands of monks were burned alive and thousands beheaded as the Muslims tried their best to uproot Buddhism and plant Islam by the sword, The burning of the library alone contin­ued for several months.


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