Nalanda University

Ancient Magadha (Bihar), place where the Nalanda University has been established, was characterized by an intellectual ferment unlike any known to mankind. It is said Gautama Buddha have delivered lectures in a nearby mango grove named Pavarika.

Nalanda University was able to meld multiple discourses and to embrace knowledge in its entirety to become attractive for all seekers of pure knowledge.

The site is located about 95 kilometres southeast of Patna near the town of Bihar Sharif. The liberal cultural traditions inherited from the Gupta age, in the 5th and 6th centuries, resulted in a period of growth and prosperity until the ninth century. At its peak, the school attracted scholars and students from near and far with some travelling all the way from Tibet, China, Korea, and Central Asia. University’s life lasted almost continually for 800 years from the fifth to the twelfth century CE. It was a completely residential university believed to have 2,000 teachers and 10,000 students. All students at Nalanda studied Mahayana as well as the texts of the eighteen (Hinayana) sects of Buddhism. Their curriculum also included other subjects such as the Vedas, logic, Sanskrit grammar, medicine and Samkhya.

The remains of Nalanda today extend some 1,600 feet (488 m) north to south and around 800 feet (244 m) east to west. Excavations have revealed eleven monasteries and six major brick temples arranged in an ordered layout. Most structures show evidence of multiple periods of construction with new buildings being raised atop the ruins of old ones. Many of the buildings also display signs of damage by fire on at least one occasion. Numerous sculptures, murals, copper plates, inscriptions, seals, coins, plaques, potteries and works in stone, bronze, stucco and terracotta have been unearthed within the ruins of Nalanda. The Buddhist sculptures discovered notably include those of the Buddha in different postures, Avalokiteshvara, Jambhala, Manjushri, Marichi, and Tara.

Nalanda was very likely ransacked and destroyed by an army of the Mamluk Dynasty of the Delhi Sultanate under Bakhtiyar Khilji in c. 1200 CE