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ANCIENT INDIAN UNIVERSITY

Updated on December 31, 2010
 

NALANDA UNIVERSITY

Formal education in ancient India was confined to two types of institutions namely Brahmanical and Buddhist. Study in a Brahmanical institution lasted nearly three decades whilst Buddhist institutions demanded a minimum of ten years of intense study. Nalanda was the foremost Buddhist monastery and educational centre in North India. The Etymology of the word NALANDA is interesting. NALA means ‘lotus', which symbolizes knowledge and DA means ‘to give'. In other words NALANDA existed to impart knowledge which it did for nearly a thousand years.

Nalanda is one of the oldest Universities of Ancient India. The other being Takshashila (also known as Taxila). It was located in the Indian state of Bihar, near Modern Patna, which was earlier known as PATALIPUTRA. The university dates back to the time of Gautama Buddha who was supposed to have visited the place around 500 BC. Even Mahavira the founder of Jainism is said to have lived in Nalanda for a while. It was also the first residential university, and had in its heyday nearly 10000 students and about 2000 faculty members. It was truly an international university as it had students and scholars, from China, Japan, Korea, Persia, and Indonesia. According the writings of Xuanzang who had stayed at Nalanda for over 17 years, the campus was a huge complex spread over 14 hectares consisting of lecture halls, dormitories and temples.

It was supported by the income from a number of villages which the monastery acquired over time through donations. The subjects taught here were Grammar, Rhetoric, Prose, logic, metaphysics, astrology, astronomy, ayurveda, mathematics and of course Philosophy. In fact Nalanda was renowned as a centre of Buddhist learning. Nalanda's contribution to the evolution of Buddhism is immense. Three forms of Buddhism namely, MAHAYANA, (followed in China, Japan, Korea and Viet Nam) VAJRAYANA (followed in Tibet, Mongolia, Russia , North eastern China) AND THERAVADA had its protagonists in the portals of Nalanda University.

It was however the scholars connected with Nalanda who were responsible for its reputation and they were many. There was for example Silabhadra a preceptor of Xuanzang and a master of the Sutras. Dharmakirti the father of Buddhist logic and Padmasambhava who on the invitation of the Tibetan King Thri Song went to Tibet and introduced the Tantric form of Buddhism there. Other renowned scholars included Nagarjuna, Aryadeva and Asanga.

The decline of Buddhism in India is closely connected with the burning of Nalanda. The renowned centre of learning was razed to the ground by Turkish Muslim Invaders the Khiljis. For centuries it remained unknown having been reduced to mounds of earth, but in 1861 Sir Alexander Cunningham rediscovered this ancient seat of learning. The inscriptions, Icons and sculptures found during the excavation were then preserved in a museum.

However efforts are now being made to revive the Nalanda University. The objective is to set up a university on the basis of an inter-governmental treaty involving countries like Japan, China and other East Asian countries. For this a mentor group under the chairmanship of Amartya Sen has been set up. The Bihar Government has for this purpose acquired 500 acres of land and it is hoped that like the proverbial phoenix Nalanda would rise up from the ashes.

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  • profile image

    sada 

    4 years ago

    plz give informatio on vallabhi university

  • profile image

    bob 

    5 years ago

    good job

  • ram_m profile imageAUTHOR

    ram_m 

    5 years ago from India

    Thanks Paul Henry Wilde, I'm happy you found this useful and equally glad that you got full marks

  • ram_m profile imageAUTHOR

    ram_m 

    5 years ago from India

    Thanks Yash

  • profile image

    paul henry wilde 

    5 years ago

    it is a very good and helpful site I really mean it you will not believe that i got full marks on my assignment

  • profile image

    Yash 

    6 years ago

    Its interesting !

  • ram_m profile imageAUTHOR

    ram_m 

    6 years ago from India

    hello url. This hub was first posted on 05/02/08 with additional inputs on 12/31/10

  • ram_m profile imageAUTHOR

    ram_m 

    6 years ago from India

    thank you nareshpai

  • profile image

    url 

    6 years ago

    im doing a thesis paper and i wanr=ted to know when this was posted

  • profile image

    nareshpai 

    6 years ago

    very useful for studing history...

  • ram_m profile imageAUTHOR

    ram_m 

    6 years ago from India

    Thank you muralidhar rao for your nice comments and suggestion.I shall try to add those information

  • profile image

    muralidhar rao.n 

    6 years ago

    its very nice to have such a good information about our ancient universities.add little more information about the personnel those received education at nalanda.

  • ram_m profile imageAUTHOR

    ram_m 

    6 years ago from India

    Thank you Amardeep for your nice comments.

  • profile image

    Amardeep B Mogha 

    6 years ago

    Sir this is a very good article on our heritage of our country.Our heritage is the modal for foreign country that's way others woukld come and get a very valuable education .This is a very nice work done by you sir keep it and try to write others university which is existed in our encient period.

  • ram_m profile imageAUTHOR

    ram_m 

    6 years ago from India

    Thank you Bipulsaha. Regarding the teachers of Nalanda you will find it in this hub: https://hubpages.com/education/SCHOLARS-OF-NALANDA

  • profile image

    bipulsaha 

    6 years ago

    I want to find out who were the teachers of Nalanda with short life sketch.

  • ram_m profile imageAUTHOR

    ram_m 

    6 years ago from India

    Thank you Jayasree jayan for your nice comments. I'm happy this hub was useful

  • profile image

    JAYASREE JAYAN 

    6 years ago

    SIR, IT IS A VERY GOOD ARTICLE ON OUR ANCIENT UNIVERSITIES.IT IS A NICE PIECE OF WORK WHICH IS HELPFUL ESPECIALLY FOR STUDENTS.THIS ARTICLE HELPS TO BRING UP THE IMPORTANCE OF EDUCATION IN ANCIENT INDIA.I WISH TO CONGRATULATE YOU WHOLEHEARTEDLY.THE PICTURES HELPS TO UNDERSTAND IT MORE CLEARLY. A VERY GOOD JOB!!

  • profile image

    JAYASREE JAYAN 

    6 years ago

    ITS AN EXCELLENT WORK ON ANCIENT INDIAN UNIVERSITIES.

  • profile image

    dwipayan 

    9 years ago

    initiatives should be taken in a systematic manner by every student who belongs to BHARAT

  • profile image

    Subhash C. Arya 

    10 years ago

    Good article on Great Univerisity. We indian forget our own educational systems and methodologies that is why in presnt education field, we are nowhere in today's world context. Our meritorious students are going abroad for education.

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