Nalanda : The ancient centre of learning

In September this year the Nalanda University reopened with 15 students and 11 faculty members. A few hundreds of years back this same Nalanda university was a thriving educational institute much like the Harvards and Oxfords of our time.Chandra Gupta is considered to be the founder of this prestigious institution.  Students and faculty from all over the world studied and taught at this university.   They were provided free tuition, board and lodge. The upkeep of Nalanda was done by the taxes collected from the villages.

Most of the literature we have of Nalanda come from Chinese travelers  and students themselves. Xuan Zang a Chinese travelers has documented that in its hey day Nalanda had about 10,000 students and 2000 faculty, about 300 residences and best teachers in the subjects of philosophy, medicine, astronomy and Buddhist scripture. Hieun Tsang and Fi Han famous Chinese pilgrims were students at this university.

The site of Nalanda was ideally located along the ancient trade route  between Patna and Rajgir. It flourished initially under the Guptas and then Pala dynasty before it fell into ruin and finally ransacked by the invading army  of the Mamluk  empire. It is said that it had a library so big that it took about 6 months to burn when the army set fire to the institute.

The destruction of Nalanda according to historians marks the shift of the knowledge base from the East to the West. Only Al Azhar in Cairo (972 CE), Bologna in Italy (1088 CE) and Oxford in the United Kingdom (1167 CE )had been founded before the destruction of Nalanda.

 

 

 

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The ruins of Nalanda

The ruins of Nalanda

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