Nalanda University a History of Ancient India, a detailed researched article that reveals some fact on Nalanda, Ancient India’s First International University.
This researched article Nalanda A History of Ancient India is written by “Manosattwa Das”, She is currently pursuing Library Science and she is student of Culcutta University and belongs to Murshidabad, West Bengal.
Nalanda was the first residential university in the world. Nalanda University was established during the Gupta period. Later Pala kings took care of it. For almost 800 years,the university was ruled by Hindu and Buddhist kings or emperors.
Topic Covered in Nalanda University a History of Ancient India
- Meaning of Nalanda
- Geogeraphical Location of Nalanda
- How is Nalanda destroyed
- How do we know about Nalanda
- Size of Nalanda
- Soul of Nalanda
- History of Nalanda
- Nalanda Studends and Studies
- Current State of Nalanda
Meaning of Nalanda
In 𝗣𝗮𝗹𝗶, the word “𝑁𝑎𝑙𝑎𝑚” means 𝐿𝑜𝑢𝑡𝑎𝑠 and the word “𝐷𝑎” means “𝐺𝑖𝑣𝑖𝑛𝑔”. The lotus is again a symbol of “knowledge”. These two words Nalam and Da have become Nalanda.Which means “giving knowledge”.
It is said that long before the establishment of Nalanda University, Gautama Buddha came and stayed in this place many times during his life time. Similarly, Tirthankara Mahavira came to this place during his lifetime and stayed here for about 14 years. Nalanda has not been established yet.
As a result, the importance of this place to Hindus, Buddhists and Jains is immense. It was a holy place as well as a place of learning.
Geogeraphical Location of Nalanda
Nalanda was located in the then kingdom of Magadha. At present this place is located in the state of Bihar. The distance from Patna to Nalanda is about 80 km. Today that famous Nalanda, witnessing a lot of blood and murder, has turned into a silent, frozen ruin.
How is Nalanda University destroyed
1196 AD: The great Nalanda University is destroyed by a Muslim force. That force was led by Md. Bin Baktiyar Khalji. He was a general of Mohammad Ghori.It is said that Baktiyar Khalji just asked if there is a Quran here. Is the Quran taught here? Since his followers in the north said ‘no’, Khalji completely destroyed this great school, this world famous place.
Thousands of saints, monks, students and teachers were burnt alive. Thousands of saints and monks were beheaded. It is said that Khalji killed more than 5,000 students and teachers at the same time in Nalanda. Only a handful were able to save their lives. Not to end here, Khalji set fire to Nalanda’s self, Nalanda’s library. A few lakh books were burnt to ashes in this library. It is said that there were so many books in this library that it burned continuously for 3 months.
With this library came the end of all the priceless thousands of books, thousands of knowledge that the world could never recover.Many invaluable knowledge and books on Medicine,Chemistry,Ayurveda,Astronomy,Yoga,Tantra,Philosophy,etc. were lost from the face of the earth forever.This is the loss of the whole world,of all mankind.
One more thing is destroyed in that destruction. As a result of that attack,Buddhism went back hundreds of years.Because of that attack, a large part of his religious texts,religious scholars, were destroyed.Since that attack, the rate of Buddhism in India has been declining rapidly.
How do we know about Nalanda
The main and important information about Nalanda can be learned from the writings of the Chinese traveler Hiuen Tsang.This Chinese traveler came here in 628 AD and studied Buddhism here for 2 years.He left a lot of valuable information about Nalanda in his writings.
Later,when the Tibetan scholar Chag Lo-tsa-ba (1197 – 1264) visited India in 1935,he saw Nalanda as a dead,ruined history. But he also saw that Rahul Srivadra, a 90-year-old teacher in Nalanda, was still imparting knowledge to his 70 students.The local Hindus were helping him. Perhaps that was the last teaching in Nalanda. he and Nalanda wrote down a lot of valuable information about the last history.
Size of Nalanda
The university was located on an area of about 14 hectares. According to Hiuen Tsang,the university had about 108 temples, with six large separate halls,300 separate rooms,a large library, separate halls for meditation and classrooms.Gardens and ponds spread around the university.The boundaries of the entire university were surrounded by a high wall of stone.It had only one entrance.
Seeing the architecture of Nalanda, the common people, the architects, the scientists were all amazed.
Soul of Nalanda
The Nalanda library was called “Dharmāyajna”.There were 3 huge buildings in Dharmayajna.Their names were “Ratnasagar”, “Ratnadadhi”, “Ratnarajnaka”. Among them Ratnasagar was a 9-storey building.The library of Nalanda was the soul and spirit of Nalanda.
History of Nalanda
Before Nalanda University, the place was a developed and wealthy settlement. A major commercial road passed through the region to the then capital city of Magadha,Rajgriha. That palace city is now known as Rajgir.
Nalanda Studends and Studies
Nalanda University had about 10,000 students. There were about 2000 teachers for them. Students from many countries of the world used to come here to study. The major countries are China, Greece, Indonesia, Japan, Korea, Persia, Sri Lanka, Tibet, etc.
The admission process here was very rigorous and difficult. The student had to prove his worthiness through many tests. A lot of subjects were studied and researched here. Among the topics that were studied and researched here are Philosophy, Grammar, Logic, Ayurveda, Medicine, Sanskrit, Pali, Hinduism, Madhyamika, Tantra, Astronomy, Astronomy, Yoga, Literature etc.
Among the students or teachers who were associated with this university were Nagarjuna, Asanga, Santrakshit, Rahulbhadra, Kamalshil, Padmasambhava, Atish, Shilbhadra etc.
Current State of Nalanda University
Many times have passed since the destruction of Nalanda. At the end of 1915 AD, the first excavation work started here. The excavation work continued till 1937 AD. Later in 1974 excavation work started again and it was completed in 1982. The Nalanda Museum was established in 1917. On August 15, 2007, the popular President of India, Dr. A. P. J Abdul Kalam came forward to restore Nalanda University.
The Government of India restarted Nalanda University in a new form. The new university was reopened under the guidance of Nobel Laureate Amartya Sen. UNESCO has recognized the great Nalanda Mahavihara as a World Heritage Site. Nalanda will forever be a matter of pride for Indians.
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